Dhaka, Nov 12 (UNB) - Newly appointed Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito on Tuesday laid emphasis on working together to further the business environment in Bangladesh noting that Japanese companies are vigorously doing business here.
The envoy said the Embassy of Japan, together with JETRO, will take every opportunity to improve the business environment so that Japanese companies can expand their trade between the two countries and increase their direct investment in Bangladesh.
He made the remarks while addressing a reception at his official residence mentioning that vibrant economy and people of Bangladesh have already fascinated him since his arrival last month.
Ambassador Ito and his wife Yuki hosted the reception and introduced themselves to the Bangladeshi government officials as well as dignitaries and representatives of Japan-related and international organizations based in Bangladesh.
Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman who attended the function as the chief guest said Bangladesh and Japan have been enjoying longstanding friendship, mentioning the similarity of the two national flags which symbolises the proximity of the two nations.
Ambassador Ito said his recent visit to the Rohingya camps made him recognise again the necessity of working for displaced people and people in the host community, and of realising their early repatriation.
“To that end, we’ll continue to support the efforts made by the Bangladeshi government, and to cooperate with UN agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders,” he said.
The Japanese Ambassador also reiterated that both the years 2021, 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh and 2022, 50th anniversary of Japan-Bangladesh relations, will make a very good opportunity to further strengthen the bilateral ties.
“As we move forward, there’ll be important milestones of our partnership. Year 2021 will be the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh, and Year 2022 will be the 50th anniversary of the Bangladesh-Japan Diplomatic Relation,” he said.
Ambassador Ito said these coming events will be very good opportunities to further strengthen the ties between the two countries and to elevate them to a higher dimension.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid and Secretary (Bilateral- Europe, Africa & Americas – and Consular) Kamrul Ahsan among others, were present.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das on Tuesday said India believes in an “inclusive” Indo Pacific and described its connectivity with Bangladesh as “game-changer” ensuring a “win-win” situation for the two countries.
“So, for India connectivity with Bangladesh is a game-changer and we feel that for the both of our countries it’s a win-win (situation),” she said while talking in an interactive session on ‘Connecting the Indo-Pacific: Infrastructure and Influence’ in the city.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Member of Parliament, India Manish Tewari and Prof, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University Minwang Lin also spoke at the session moderated by Managing Director, OXCON Frontier Markets & Fragile States Consulting Mohamed El Dashan.
The session was arranged as part of the ongoing three-day ‘Dhaka Global Dialogue 2019’ inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday.
The High Commissioner talked about the railway and roads widening projects which are happening under 8 billion Lines of Credit (LoCs), inland water-based connections and access to two Bangladesh ports – Chattogram and Mongla.
“I think it (access to ports and other connectivity) can be a game-changer for both of our countries….it can be a game-changer for the northeast as well,” High Commissioner Riva said mentioning that almost 80 percent of their US$ 8 billion LoCs is spent on the connectivity projects.
The High Commissioner highlighted the joint initiatives of reestablishing all the pre-1965 rail connections between Bangladesh and India and progress made so far to that end.
Riva Ganguly also laid importance on people-to-people connectivity with liberal visa process saying digital connectivity is an exciting area for connectivity in the future.
She said Bangladesh is the most important neighbour of India with which they have such a “growing interaction” and connectivity plays a very important role in this interaction.
“The importance of connectivity can be judged by the excitement that is there in Indian in Northeastern States,” said the High Commissioner.
IPS, BRI Complimentary
State Minister Shahriar said Bangladesh believes USA’s Indo Pacific Strategy (IPS) and Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are not conflicting but complimentary to each other.
“Our position is loud and clear that we believe these are complementary to each other, not conflicting,” he said adding that it is too early to jump into a conclusion as the Indo-Pacific is still evolving.
The State Minister said most countries in the region have no clear idea what Indo Pacific largely stands for or what is the definition of it.
He said free movement of people, services and goods are the key elements for the region to prosper.
“We need to harness our potential and increase our cooperation,” he said adding that negative elements like irregular migration, illicit trade and piracy were there but there are success stories in other parts of the world.
Shahriar said Bangladesh’s position on Indo Pacific is “loud and clear” and mentioned that other ideas or initiatives are complementary not conflicting.
He said the Indo Pacific is still evolving but one thing is evident that it is Asian century with global economic powers’ focus on it.
That is why, Shahriar said, the countries of this region need to remain in bonding and cooperation as much as possible.
“Potential is there. We must not lose our focus. We shouldn’t get confused by different ideas by different countries,” he said.
The State Minister said people prefer free movement and free movement of trade is also essential as it is important element for all the countries.
He laid emphasis on considering domestic demand, interest and objectives and also world order. “We need to talk about it much more.”
Riva Ganguly said she does not think Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Indo Pacific are the same at all and Indo Pacific is not driven by a single country with long portfolio projects in that sense.
She said Indo Pacific is an understanding what they believe a natural region.
Prof Minwang Lin suggested having a master plan for regional connectivity saying Bangladesh and India can take the lead to that end.
Inclusive Indo Pacific
For India, High Commissioner Riva Ganguly said, the important thing of the Indo Pacific is that they are looking at a “free, open, inclusive” order which is “safe, secure and stable.”
She said they are looking at freedom of navigation, respect and sovereignty of all in the region. “It’s not a strategy; it’s not a club and not a grouping.”
Riva Ganguly said India believes in an inclusive Indo Pacific which is not exclusive in any way.
She said this inclusive idea shows the interest of the region those who are in the region, assurance of safe, secure architecture based on cooperation, international order, law, respect and adherence of the rule of law.
Issues related to Asean, Saarc and Bimstec were also discussed in the session with participation from the audience.
Dhaka's Growing Importance
High Commissioner Riva Ganguly said the three words - Dhaka Global Dialogue - by itself indicative of how important this event is.
“We’re having a global dialogue in Dhaka it again shows the importance of Dhaka,” she said adding that it’s one of the most happening places in the world.
Talking about Bangladesh’s growth, the High Commissioner said this is a story which gets repeated – the growth of Bangladesh in which India sees a lot of opportunities. “Across all sectors, Bangladesh has done so amazingly well.”
Talking about Indian perspective of Indo Pacific, the Indian High Commissioner said India is a growing economy and one of the fastest-growing economies, and they naturally depend a lot on their sea lanes - most of the trade takes place through sea lanes, both merchandise and services trade.
Riva Ganguly said it is a natural region in their view which has growing importance in the region and beyond.
She mentioned that 38 major countries are part of this broad concept of Indo Pacific with 45 percent of world services area, 65 percent of world population, 62 percent of world GDP and 46 percent of world merchandize trade that go across this region. “It’s extremely an important area both globally as well as for us.”
The High Commissioner said in terms of economic importance as well as geographical importance it is an important concept and area which is going to be increasingly more and more important.
Bharatiya Janta Party National General Secretary Ram Madhav on Monday said Indo Pacific is “not a political or any special strategic arrangement” but the natural and most happening region today.
“When we talk about Indo Pacific, we talk about the natural region. It’s about appreciating the reality,” he said while sharing his thoughts in a session titled ‘Dhaka Consensus: Growth and Development in the Indo-Pacific.”
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Julia Niblett and Research Fellow, International Security Studies Department, Royal United Services Institute Veerle Nouwens also spoke at the session moderated by President, Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Samir Saran.
The discussion was part of the ongoing three-day ‘Dhaka Global Dialogue 2019’ that began on Monday morning with formal inauguration by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Global experts came together here at the two-and-a-half day dialogue to discuss and debate the core development issues in the Asian century where all nations can gain from partnership and collaboration.
Responding to a question, the BJP leader said India’s whole outlook about the Indian Ocean and Indo Pacific is that they are not creating any special region or regional arrangement here. “Indo Pacific is a natural region.”
Explaining why they are talking about Indo Pacific in Dhaka, Washington and across the world, he said they are talking about it because this region, in the 21 century, has emerged as the most happening region.
He laid emphasis on joint efforts to deal with the opportunities and challenges in the region saying it is all about ‘stakeholdership.’
He said the key thing of the discussion is how to ensure the rules-based order respecting sovereignty of all.
Shahriar Alam talked about the ‘natural bonding’ among Indo Pacific countries and said they need to invest in institutions and come closer if they want to propel the growth further in the region.
Referring to Bangladesh’s foreign policy approach – ‘friendship to all, malice to none’, the State Minister said they want to maintain almost equal terms with the other countries. “We’re one of the first countries in the region to say ‘yes’ to BRI but at the same time we’re mindful of the challenges that come.”
He said as long as they are mindful of right steps taking in the right moment, future will be brighter for countries like Bangladesh.
Shahriar highlighted Bangladesh’s leadership role on migration issue in the global forum saying they have a responsibility to improve the migration system across the world within the UN system.
He said differences between neighbours can be resolved amicably through discussions and respecting the rules-based order.
Australian High Commissioner Niblett said the Indo-Pacific is a much-discussed concept in many different forums and it obviously means different things to different countries.
In Australia, she said, they use the term Indo Pacific because they recognise Australia’s security and prosperity are greatly affected by developments in the Indo Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.
The High Commissioner highlighted links between current links and possible links that enable trade. “This presents a lot of potential and opportunities.”
She said this is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions in the world.
ORF President Samir Saran on Sunday said the Indo Pacific should not be about America trying to contain China or China trying to contain someone else; rather it should be centrally about the people who live in Indo Pacific region.
“It’s time to move beyond security and politics and we’ve to focus on what really matters us,” said Saran who belongs to one of Asia’s most influential think tanks.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and ORF, India are co-hosting the dialogue which seeks to catalyse conversations on what is fast emerging as one of the most important and dynamic political and growth geographies of the world.
Outgoing Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali on Monday sought international support for a resolution on human rights violation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The resolution, sponsored jointly by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union (EU), is titled “The Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.”
It will be tabled for adoption at the ongoing session of the 3rd Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on November 14 for the third consecutive year.
It got overwhelming support from the UN members in past two years, said the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi.
While briefing diplomats on Monday, Syed Muazzem Ali said Bangladesh is hosting over a million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar for long.
Nearly 45 New Delhi-based foreign diplomats, including heads of the mission, who are concurrently accredited to Bangladesh, attended the briefing.
The High Commissioner said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the border for the Rohingyas in their latest influx in 2017 “out of humanitarian consideration only.”
He referred to the four-point proposal placed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the last UNGA session calling for a safe and sustainable return and reintegration of o Rohingyas to Myanmar.
“We believe that on the basis of the 4-point plan, a continued and sustained international pressure on Myanmar would be catalyst for a long-term solution,” the envoy told the diplomats at the briefing held at the mission.
Quoting from Sheikh Hasina’s proposal the envoy said international community must ensure that the root causes of Rohingya problem are addressed and the violation of human rights and other atrocity, crimes committed against Rohingyas are accounted for.
Gambia filed a case on Monday at the United Nations' highest court accusing Myanmar of genocide in its campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Lawyers for Gambia said in a statement that the case also asks the International Court of Justice to urgently order measures "to stop Myanmar's genocidal conduct immediately."
Gambia filed the case on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, according to AP.
The government has appointed Muhammad Imran, currently serving as Bangladesh Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, as the new High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India.
High Commissioner designate Imran is a career foreign service officer belonging to the 1986 batch of Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) Foreign Affairs cadre, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.
During his distinguished diplomatic career, Imran worked in various capacities at Bangladesh Missions in Jeddah, Bonn, Berlin and Ottawa as well as Deputy High Commissioner at the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission, Kolkata.
He also served as Ambassador of Bangladesh to Uzbekistan.
At the headquarters, he served in various capacities in different Wings.
Imran obtained his MBBS degree from Mymensingh Medical College under the University of Dhaka.
He will replace current Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali.