Dhaka, Dec 9 (UNB) - Bangladesh and Portugal have agreed to enhance cooperation to deepen and widen the existing bilateral relations for mutual benefits of the two countries.
The two countries discussed the bilateral issues in the first ever bilateral Political Consultations held in Lisbon recently.
Secretary Bilateral and Consular of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Ambassador Kamrul Ahsan led the Bangladesh side while Director General of Foreign Policy of Portuguese Foreign Ministry Ambassador Pedro Sanchez Da Costa Pereira led the Portuguese delegation, said the Foreign Ministry here on Sunday.
The discussions covered the entire gamut of Bangladesh – Portugal relations including trade and investment, power and energy particularly renewable energy, blue economy and maritime resources, tourism and culture, employment opportunity for Bangladeshi workforce, regional and international issues such as Brexit, Rohingya, climate change, and other issues of mutual interests.
The Portuguese side congratulated Bangladesh on the impressive socio-economic development including economic growth, empowerment of women, gender parity and appreciated Bangladesh’s important humanitarian role in hosting over one million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh.
Referring to the ongoing mega projects in Bangladesh, Portuguese side expressed their interest to take part in the upcoming projects particularly in infrastructure, ICT, power and renewable energy sectors.
The two sides agreed to hold regular political consultations and regular exchange of visits at all levels including political, business, civil society and people’s group to boost up relations between the two countries.
Dhaka, Dec 9 (UNB) - Bangladesh holds an important ‘geopolitical strategic position’ in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that offers ‘great potential’ to strengthen economic and trade cooperation between Bangladesh and China, says a Chinese expert.
“We should strengthen cooperation between the two governments, and at the same time focus on strengthening inter-party exchanges,” Prof Li Tao, Executive Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at Sichuan University in China, told UNB.
The BRI is a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping. This mega initiative emerged when President Xi came to power in 2013.
During Xi’s historic visit to Dhaka in 2016, Bangladesh formally joined the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, a drive which has already drawn the close attention of the world.
Sharing her thoughts on development of Bangladesh-China relationship under the BRI, Prof Li Tao said the two countries can accelerate the feasibility study on Bangladesh-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and then start the negotiation accordingly.
“The FTA between Bangladesh and China can effectively reduce the trade deficit. This is very important,” she said emphasising the importance of actively promoting the feasibility studies to that end.
Bangladesh and China will complete the exchange of letters for zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of tariff items exported from Bangladesh to China within a short time, to further boost the export of Bangladeshi goods to Chinese market, according to Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Zhang Zuo said both Bangladesh and China have highly prosperous markets that attract businesspeople from all over the world. “Faced with opportunities and challenges, we should join hands to become good partners of mutual benefits.”
Ambassador Zuo said Bangladesh and China should maintain communication and consultation, adhere to the basic principles of free trade, make necessary reforms to the World Trade Organization while fully taking into consideration the interests of all parties, and safeguard the developing interests and policy space of developing countries.
Prof Li Tao, who attended Cosmos Dialogue here on Bangladesh China relations on Saturday, also shed lights on how to deal with big powers and importance of Bangladesh's political stability and policy continuity.
She also laid emphasis on overcoming administrative efficiency, social stability and investment in infrastructure and energy sector for faster growth of Bangladesh.
Sharing some suggestions for stronger Bangladesh-China relations, Prof Li Tao said the two countries should strengthen intergovernmental cooperation and promote more cities in the two countries to turn those into friendly cities.
“We need to enhance cooperation in infrastructure sector,” she said focusing on close cooperation in big infrastructure projects like airports in Bangladesh.
Prof Li Tao also said China's investment in Bangladesh should promote the "localization" of projects, dock local labour and employment needs, truly benefit both sides, and earnestly increase local incomes.
She also laid emphasis on strengthening exchanges in the personnel, media cooperation, cooperation in higher education and mutual recognition of academic qualifications.
Appreciating Bangladesh-China longstanding friendly relations, the Chinese expert said similar development concepts of the two countries is the core of cooperation.
In 2017, bilateral trade value between the two countries reached US$ 16 billion, 5.8 percent higher than last year, with China remaining the number one 1 trade partner to Bangladesh, data shows.
In the first 9 months of this year, the bilateral trade value stands at US$ 13.9 billion, with a growth rate of 19.3 percent year on year, according to the Chinese Embassy.
Dhaka, Dec 09 (UNB) – Bangladesh is the ninth highest recipient of remittances this year with US$ 15.9 billion and in South Asia it ranks third after India ($79.5b) and Pakistan ($20.9b), the World Bank said in a report Saturday.
Bangladesh experienced strong upticks of 17.9 percent in 2018, the bank said.
In its latest Migration and Development Brief, the World Bank said Bangladesh, after a steep decline in 2016 (-11.5 percent), remittances were flat in 2017, but remittances are showing a brisk uptick in 2018 (17.9 percent).
In 2018, the top remittance-receiving countries are projected to be India ($79.5 billion), followed by China ($ 67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each) and Egypt ($26 billion), according to the global lender.
The Bank estimates that officially-recorded remittances to developing countries will increase by 10.8 percent to reach $528 billion in 2018. This new record level follows a robust growth of 7.8 percent in 2017.
Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, are projected to grow by 10.3 percent to $689 billion, it said.
The reports also projected that remittances to South Asia will increase by 13.5 percent to $132 billion in 2018, a stronger pace than the 5.7 percent growth seen in 2017.
“Remittances have a direct impact on alleviating poverty for many households, and the World Bank is well positioned to work with countries to facilitate remittance flows,” said Michal Rutkowski, Senior Director of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank.
However, the pace of migrant worker deployments from Bangladesh for the first three quarters of 2018 slowed by 25 percent (0.55 million, compared with 0.73 million in the same period in the previous year).
The report also noted that the Malaysian government postponed hiring Bangladeshi workers from September 2018, claiming the system was abused by a cartel of 10 recruitment agencies in Bangladesh who charged workers nearly 10 times the allowable recruitment fees of TK 40,000 (approximately $471).
The government of Bangladesh has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Nepal agreeing that employers, rather than the migrant workers themselves, will bear the full cost of hiring, said the Bank.
Meanwhile, the Bank also mentioned that although refugee movements into the European Union have abated, other regions have seen dramatic increases in refugee numbers. Since August 2017 over 720,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar and taken refuge in Bangladesh.
“This has placed enormous pressures on their host communities,” it added.
Dhaka, Dec 9 (UNB) - The World Bank has approved $500 million to improve livestock and dairy production in Bangladesh so that the country can meet growing demand for egg, meat and milk to improve the nutritional intake of its citizens.
The Livestock and Dairy Development Project will improve agricultural productivity and market access of 2 million smallholder household farmers and small and medium-scale agro-entreprenuers, said the Washington-based lending agency on Sunday.
By stimulating growth and improving livestock production systems, livestock farmers in Bangladesh will have better access to livestock services and practices, it said.
“By increasing livestock productivity, Bangladesh will be better able to meet the food demands of its population,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
“Livestock development also has the potential to create more and better jobs for women, youth, and the vulnerable in rural areas.”
The livestock sector employs 14 percent of the total labor force, but more than 70 percent of rural households are engaged in livestock production.
Currently 68 percent of the agricultural labor force are women and they are mainly involved in livestock and poultry production.
"Climate change impacts on livestock production threaten to hamper the development of livestock,” said Manievel Sene, World Bank Team Leader for the Livestock and Dairy Development Project.
“Rural households’ livestock assets are highly exposed to risks, including loss of livestock, associated with natural events and major disease outbreaks. Mitigating risks by creating an enabling environment for livestock insurance will reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers as well as enhance productivity.”
Production in cattle and milk, meat, and poultry meat and eggs are not meeting consumption growth, resulting in rising shortages: it is anticipated that by 2021, there will be annual shortages of 1.5 billion eggs, 0.5 million tons of meat, and more than 5.9 million tons of milk.
In 2015-2016, imports of dairy reached $248.8 million.
Young children, pregnant women and new mothers are particularly vulnerable to nutritional shortfalls.
The project aims to provide at least two million people with food safety information through training, mobile applications, and other multimedia tools.
The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides grants or zero-interest loans, has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.
Dhaka, Dec 8 (UNB) – The Aga Khan School, Dhaka on Saturday distributed certificates among the teachers, marking the conclusion of a six-month Continuing Professional Education (CPE) certification programme focusing on “Becoming a Reflective Teacher”.
The programme, held at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, was conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Educational Development (IED) of the Aga Khan University.
Teachers from other schools attended the programme that aimed at enhancing the pedagogical knowledge and skills of participants and equip them with strategies and tools to provide a more conducive learning environment for their students.
The comprehensive CPE programme’s design and content, which includes online sessions, are provided by the IED of Aga Khan University.
The Aga Khan School, Dhaka, which is an IB School (International Baccalaureate), has been organising such training programmes with the Aga Khan University’s IED since 1999.
The Aga Khan School, Dhaka was established in 1988, and this year, it is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The school is part of an international network of over 200 schools in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates.