Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bangladesh signs deals to boost Bhutan trade

  • Reazul Bashar, from Thimphu,
    Published: 2017-04-18 22:22:07 BdST


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has paved the way for more trade between Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Five deals and memoranda of understanding were signed after Hasina met Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay in Thimphu on Tuesday.

The deals address agriculture, avoidance of double taxation, culture and quality control of goods and allowing the landlocked nation the use of inland waterways.

PM Tobgay received Hasina when she arrived in Bhutan's Paro International Airport on a Druk Air VVIP flight at 11:35am Tuesday.

A colourful parade accompanied her on the way to capital Thimphu.

In the afternoon, the prime minister was ceremonially received at Tashichho Dzong, the royal Palace. She then had an audience with Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.

"The most prominent part of our talks was about using connectivity to increase trade," said Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque after bilateral talks between the Hasina and Tobgay at Gyalyong Tshogkhang.

"The MoUs will help trade in several ways. The decision on double taxation will enhance business."

The foreign secretary talked about how Bhutan was among the first countries to recognise Bangladesh's independence in 1971.

A plot of land for building an embassy will be handed over to Bangladesh by Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in view of the old ties. The matter will be made formal through an MoU on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought Bhutan's support for getting Mar 25 recognised internationally as Genocide Day. She also spoke of cooperation in developing hydroelectricity.

"Their prime minister said the potential for hydro-power can be a game changer for the region. Power will be developed in Bhutan with cooperation of three countries. It will then be regionally transmitted."

PM Tobgay sought assistance for the country's health trust fund, said Secretary Shahidul Haque. "The prime minister has given her assurance."

"Another issue we discussed was about Bhutan hiring our doctors. Foreign doctors will get up to $3,000 if they work here. There are possibilities of jobs here if our doctors are interested."

"There are now 123 Bhutanese students studying in Bangladesh most of whom are medical students. Both prime ministers have agreed to increase cooperation in this sector."
Hasina brought up the motor vehicle agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal for which there have been efforts to create a sub-regional alliance.

"Our prime minister said BBIN was a main corridor for connectivity. She urged Bhutan to support its implementation."

Bhutan will be sending representatives to Bangladesh to find out how Kuakata, Cox's Bazar can be brought together to form a tourism corridor with itself, said the foreign secretary.

"Prime Minister Tobgay said water management in this region should be a joint initiative. It should especially be based on regional cooperation between Bangladesh, India and Bhutan."

"They said there is huge possibility for BIMSTEC here. They believe sub-regional cooperation can start off with BIMSTEC."

PM Hasina has proposed that Bhutan make use sea ports at Mongla and Chittagong, besides Syedpur Airport.