Jun 06, 2015
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According to the latest HSBC Global Connections Trade Forecast Report, Bangladesh will post strong economic growth and see a bullish trend in exports up to 2030. The Report states that the country's economy has grown by around 6% annually over the past decade, and it will continue to grow at a similar rate over the next ten years. It added that the country's trade prospects are bright, particularly in the textiles sector and potential to attract more FDI is large. The report also praised Bangladesh's macroeconomic stability under the guidance of the IMF.
In a ceremony organized to commemorate the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated Bangladesh's resolve to send its troops for peacekeeping missions to any conflict-ridden region of the world. The Premier informed the audience that Bangladesh has received offers for some key appointments in the UN Peacekeeping Missions, including the headquarters. Bangladesh currently has 9,593 of its troops, including 205 female members, engaged in various UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
BANGLADESH-INDIA RELATIONS
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Bangladesh Parliament has passed a motion in the House thanking India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for passing the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA). Taking part in the discussion, PM Sheikh Hasina emphasized the special relationship between the two countries and recalled how India stood by Bangladesh during its Liberation War. Indian Minister for External Affairs Suhsma Swaraj has commented that the LBA would open a new era in Dhaka-Delhi ties. As a result of the LBA, the lives of 51,000 people are now set to be changed for the better.
Bangladesh's exports to the Indian market is set to receive a boost as previous complexities regarding standardization stand to be resolved. Previously India did not accept the standard tests done by Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institutions (BSTI) and insisted on testing of goods by the Indian Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS). Now, an agreement would be signed between the two countries which will allow both the institutions to recognize each other’s certificates of standard. Additionally, the two organizations would coordinate with each other as regards quality control methods to ensure uniformity of standards on both sides of the border.
On June 1, trial run of direct bus service between West Bengal’s Kolkata and Agartala of Tripura via Dhaka started. Not only does this service lessen the travel time between India's Tripura and West Bengal states considerably, it also makes Bangladesh's connectivity with the two states that much convenient. Last week saw trial run of Dhaka-Guwahati bus service beginning. Bangladesh Cabinet has already approved the draft deals on these two services which will be signed during PM Narendra's Modi's upcoming visit.
Bangladesh and India are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the prevention and speedy prosecution of human trafficking. The agreement will strengthen cooperation to prevent all forms of human trafficking, especially that of women and children, and ensure the speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organized crime syndicates in both countries. It will also help in enumeration of preventive measures to be taken to eliminate trafficking and in protecting the rights of victims and their expeditious repatriation.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND MEGA PROJECTS
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Construction of the country's largest Readymade Garments (RMG) industrial park is set to begin in September this year at Baushia, Munshiganj. According to the feasibility study conducted by the Chinese firm, Orient International Holding Company, US$ 2.3 billion will be required for this undertaking. The RMG industrial park, a joint venture between BGMEA and the Chinese government, will be built on 492 acres of land and have 300-500 factories. With a capacity to export products worth $4 billion, employment will be created for 250,000 workers.
The government is going to build the country's largest exhibition centre with Chinese assistance at Purbachal, Dhaka within June 2018, investing around $103 million. The Bangladesh-China Friendship Exhibition Centre, to be built on 20 acres of land, will be a permanent establishment where the Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF) is held every year. The centre will have 806 permanent booths in two big halls. Each of the booth size will be 9.0 square meters. Beijing Institute of Architectural Design has already prepared a design for this structure.
TRADE AND INVESTMENT
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On Monday, the Cabinet gave the final approval to the draft of a bill which allows establishing of Economic Zones in Bangladesh by foreign countries under Government-to-Government (G2G) basis. The move comes following successful visits to such countries as China, Japan and India by PM Sheikh Hasina, when such countries showed their interests to set up economic zones in Bangladesh on G-to-G basis. In a related development, the Mongla Economic Zone will be readied for investors within the next three years with necessary infrastructure and utilities.
The central bank of Bangladesh has increased the size of its export development fund by 33% to US$2 billion to further boost earnings from exports. The size of the fund was last raised in June last year to $1.5 billion. The fund provides exporters with foreign currency loans at almost one-third the rates commercial banks charge. A hike in demand and adequate reserves of foreign currency has prompted the increase of the fund. Businesses from various sectors, including garments, can take loans worth $1 million to $15 million for a maximum of 180 days.
POWER AND ENERGY
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Bangladesh has joined 74 countries in signing the Energy Charter aimed at attaining sustainable energy development, improving energy security and maximizing the efficiency of production, conversion, transport and distribution. Bangladesh Ambassador to the Netherlands signed the Charter on behalf of the government at the Ministerial Conference on International Energy in Hague, Netherlands recently. The Charter emphasizes working towards access to energy for all citizens in emerging and developing economies.
Local private company Summit and US-based GE Energy is receiving US$ 210 million for a 341 MW power plant in Sylhet. Of the amount, International Finance Corp will provide $75 million, Asian Development Bank will provide US$ 75 million and Islamic Development Bank providing US$60 million. In related developments, World Bank is providing US$ 80 million for construction of a 225 MW power plant at Sirajganj, and French donor agency AFD will provide €100 million loan to Bangladesh government for upgrading the power supply system of Dhaka.
INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL COOPERATION
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Leaders of Asia-Pacific countries have lauded Bangladesh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for promoting the concept of Blue Economy regionally and globally in the post-2015 development debate. The praise came at a High-level Panel Discussion on “Blue Economy" in Bangkok, Thailand organized by Bangladesh during the 71st Annual Session of UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP). UN Under-Secretary General Dr Shamshad Akhtar pledged to include the issue of Blue Economy in ESCAP’s agenda.
Bangladesh has been re-elected to three key regional institutions of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The elections were held in the just concluded 71st session of the UNESCAP on Monday. The institutions are: the Asia Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development; the Centre for the Alleviation of Poverty through Sustainable Agriculture; and the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization. Bangladesh proactively campaigned for these elections.
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