Dhaka, Sept 25 (UNB) - Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on Wednesday said Bangladesh has found its own path of development that is tailored to its needs, with the highest GDP growth rate and the sharpest development trajectory in the region and even the whole world.
“Our peoples are close to each other. Our national conditions share similarities and our development goals are aligned, which give us plenty of space to work together,” said the Chinese Ambassador appreciating the “wise leadership” of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Ambassador Li made the remarks while addressing a reception held at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Law Minister Anisul Huq spoke as the chief guest and highlighted various aspects of Bangladesh-China relations.
Political leaders, diplomats, business leaders, civil society members and senior journalists were present.
The Chinese envoy said they are willing to join hands with Bangladeshi friends to promote traditional friendship, consolidate strategic cooperation and deepen strategic mutual trust.
“We want to be good partners for a shared development, good neighbors that act with utmost sincerity and good brothers who care for each other. Let’s work jointly to make the Chinese Dream and the Sonar Bangla Dream come true,” said Ambassador Li.
Ambassador Li said Father of Nation Bangabhandu Sheikh Mujibu Rahman visited China twice in the 1950s and the two countries have seen frequent high-level visits in recent years.
This year, the envoy said, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid a successful visit to China, during which the two sides had in-depth exchange of ideas and reached wide consensus on different issues.
The Chinese Ambassador said Bangladesh was among the first countries to jump on board BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) in South Asia; it is not only one of the important partners of China to jointly build the BRI, but also one of the first countries to benefit from the Initiative.
In line with the BRI Initiative, Ambassador Li said they have seen “ever-more dynamic” people-to-people exchanges.
In recent years, under the joint efforts of leaders of both countries, he said their military cooperation has deepened, the good momentum to high-level exchanges has been maintained, and strategic mutual trust has been strengthened comprehensively.
The Ambassador said China values and appreciates Bangladesh’s adherence to the One China Policy.
n 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Bangladesh, and the two countries elevated the relations to the level of ‘Strategic Partnership of Cooperation’, opening a whole new chapter of Bangladesh-China exchanges, he said.
During their meeting on July 5, President Xi mentioned to Prime Minister Hasina that the consolidation and development of China-Bangladesh Strategic Partnership of Cooperation would serve not only the common interests of the two peoples, but also the prosperity and stability of Asia, as well as the opening up and cooperation of the whole world.
In 2018, China-Bangladesh trade volume reached US$ 18.7 billion USD, with China maintaining the position as the largest trading partner of Bangladesh. In May, the two countries completed the letter of exchange on zero-tariff treatment for 97 percent of Bangladeshi products being sold to China, which will help Bangladesh to expand export, said the Ambassador.
Dhaka, Sept 25 (UNB) - US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller on Wednesday highly appreciated the generosity, compassion and humanity of the government and the people of Bangladesh shown towards Rohingya people living in Cox's Bazar.
"Your response to this crisis has been an example to the world," he said in a Facebook live hours after the US Department of State announced new humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas and the host community.
He said the United States will continue to work with Bangladesh, NGO and international organisation colleagues to help address the Rohingya crisis in ways that "uphold humanitarian principles" while benefiting all people in Cox’s Bazar.
The US Ambassador said he came on Facebook live because the day is an important day for the US–Bangladesh relationship.
"It’s important for the nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar. It’s important for the hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis who opened their hearts to host the refugees. It’s important for the government of Bangladesh, which opened its borders to provide a safe haven. And, it’s important for the international donor community and NGOs working with the government of Bangladesh to address this ongoing crisis," he said.
At the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the United States announced a new contribution to help address the Rohingya crisis.
Since the start of the crisis in 2017, the United States has contributed nearly $542 million and is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance.
"We pledged a new contribution of more than $127 million. $89 million will go to programmes in Bangladesh, assisting both Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities," said the US Ambassador.
This new funding brings the total US contribution to more than $669 million since the outbreak of violence in August 2017.
The majority of those funds -- more than $553 million -- is for programmes inside Bangladesh.
This funding provides assistance to Bangladeshi communities hosting refugees.
The government of Bangladesh, the United Nations, and donor nations like the United States worked together to develop joint plans to ensure all the affected populations, including host communities, have access to quality services.
This new humanitarian assistance is just one way the United States has partnered with Bangladesh over the years, said the US envoy.
Since 1971, the United States has provided more than seven billion dollars in development assistance to Bangladesh.
Last year alone, the US government, through USAID, provided over two hundred and nineteen million dollars to improve the lives of people across Bangladesh, increasing food security and economic opportunities, improving access to education and healthcare, protecting the environment, and boosting resilience to natural disasters.
"Let me take a moment to recognise the dedicated men and women of the United Nations and our humanitarian partners for their tireless and admirable commitment to assisting refugee and Bangladeshi communities," said the US envoy.
He said these selfless hardworking men and women provide lifesaving services every day under very challenging conditions. "We are proud to partner with them."
Ambassador Miller said because it is only through these trusted NGOs and other partners, operating freely and openly, that the United States and other donors can deliver help to refugee and Bangladeshi populations in need.
"They’re essential in ensuring Bangladesh does not bear sole responsibility for helping the refugee population. These organisations deserve our full support," he said.
Dhaka, Sept 25 (UNB) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday projected 8 percent GDP growth in Bangladesh in the current fiscal year indicating that the country will continue as the fastest growing economy in Asia and the Pacific.
The multilateral lending agency attributed the growth to continued buoyant exports, robust private consumption with higher remittances, accommodative monetary policy, ongoing reform to improve business climate for private investment, and public infrastructure investment.
On the supply side, sustained strong growth in industry and agriculture are expected to be the main drivers of growth in FY2020, said the ADB.
“Bangladesh economy is in a good shape and is likely to continue to grow. At 8 percent growth in FY2020, ADB’s outlook indicates that Bangladesh is likely to continue as the fastest growing economy in Asia and the Pacific,” said ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash adding that favourable trade prospects are expected to continue despite a weaker global growth.
Launching the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019 Update at its office in the city, he said exports and remittances are likely to be further strengthened.
“Strong public investment due to continued policy environment and expediting implementation of large infrastructure projects are also envisaged. We see such momentum to continue in FY2020,” said the ADB Country Director.
Parkash said such strong performance and prospects are commendable, especially under the current situation and near term forecast of moderating growth in developing Asia.
Challenges for Sustained Development
To sustain this momentum in the medium- to long-term, the ADB Country Director said there are several challenges the country needs to overcome.
He said Bangladesh requires expanded industrial base, a diversified export basket, equitable development in urban and rural areas, and a sound financial system as the ADB indicated in the previous Bangladesh country chapters.
The ADB Country Director said the authorities must speed up reforms to improve the business environment for vibrant private sector development.
The implementation of the VAT law is a welcome development. However, the further expansion of tax base and promotion of efficient tax administration are required for improved resource mobilization, he said.
The ADB Country Director said Bangladesh also needs to further develop human capital to meet the growing needs from private sector.
He said such momentum needs to be sustained in the medium- to long-term to achieve its goal of becoming an upper middle-income country and high-income country.
Parkash said this will require continued focus on prudent macroeconomic policies, sound debt management, resource mobilisation, and strengthening of the banking sector.
He said the government should continue its support in removing infrastructure constraints, promoting skills development, and improving the cost of doing business.
All these measures, he said, will help the government achieve its long-term vision.
ADB Senior Economist Soon Chan Hong presented a summary of the economic performance and prospects of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
A key highlight of the ADO 2019 update is that the growth in developing Asia is moderating but remains robust.
Compared to a projection of 5.7 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth earlier, the revised estimate is 5.4 percent for fiscal year (FY) 2019 and 5.5 percent from 5.6 percent for FY 2020.
This is largely due to the slowing down of the global trade and weakening of investment, according to the ADB.
South Asia estimates have also been revised downwards, with growth now projected to be 6.2 percent in 2019, down from 6.8 percent earlier, largely due to slowdown in India and 6.7 percent from 6.9 percent in 2020.
The good news, however, is that Bangladesh GDP growth is now estimated at 8.1 percent in FY 2019 from an earlier estimate of 8.0 percent, reflecting its robustness in nature, said Parkash.
This is also higher than the 7.9 percent in FY2018 and Bangladesh continues to be the fastest growing economy in Asia and the Pacific, he said.
On the supply side, he said, a strong expansion in industry and services lifted the robust growth.
The pick-up in exports due to stronger demand in the US and some newer markets led the brisk production in large and medium-sized industries.
On the demand side, higher net exports and strong private consumption supported by a record remittance of $16.4 billion contributed much to the higher GDP growth.
New York, Sept 25 (UNB) - The international community has assured Bangladesh that they would remain engaged in its efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis so that the Myanmar refugees can return to their homeland with safety, security and dignity, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.
"The world community has shown full solidarity with Bangladesh to resolve the Rohingya crisis saying Myanmar refugees must be repatriated to their homeland," he said at a press briefing at the Bangabandhu Auditorium of Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York on Tuesday.
He said Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen and Saudi Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf as well as ministers and representatives of different countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Germany, Belgium, European Union, the Netherlands, Turkey, Sweden, Singapore, Kuwait, Serbia, the Philippines and Gambia came up with their assurance of extending support to Bangladesh regarding Rohingya repatriation to Rakhaine state in Myanmar.
While speaking at a high-level event on Rohigya crisis organised jointly by Bangladesh Mission and the OIC Secretariat, they assured Bangladesh of pursuing the Rohingya issue, said the Foreign Minister.
“They also want the safe, secure and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh. I think it’s a great achievement for Bangladesh,” he said.
Besides, he said, pledges were made on behalf of the respective governments to provide a total of USD 270 million this year as financial assistance for the Rohingyas through the UNHCR.
Such a pledging event will also be held in December next, Dr Momen said.
About the Foreign Minister-level tri-partite meeting among China, Myanmar and Bangladesh held at the UN on Monday, Dr Momen said Myanmar has agreed to a Chinese proposal for forming a joint commission to solve the problems on the ground.
He said the Chinese side assured Bangladesh of working on all fronts to make the repatriation process a success. “China will facilitate on the ground so that the repatriation starts and we think it’s a big achievement.”
He said China has taken such an initiative following the talks of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the Chinese President and the Prime Minister in Beijing in July last.
The Foreign Minister said China has realised that Myanmar lacks sincerity in repatriation of the Rohingyas and that is why Beijing is creating pressure on Myanmar on the issue.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also held meetings with newly-elected Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Queen Maxim of the Netherlands who is also the UN Secretary General’s special advocate inclusive finance for development at the UN Head Quarters on Tuesday.
During the meeting with the Thai Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is working well in agriculture sector, but it wants to develop Argo-based industries.
In reply, the Thai Prime Minister said his country has expertise on agriculture and Bangkok wants to work with Bangladesh in a collaborative way for the development of its agriculture sector.
Prayut Chan-o-cha hoped that the trade between Bangladesh and Thailand would reach the two-billion dollar mark.
About the meeting of the Prime Minister with Queen Maxima, Dr Momen said the Dutch Queen expressed her keen interest to cooperate in establishing agro-based industries in Bangladesh.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Masud Bin Momen and Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim were present at the briefing.
New York, Sept 24 (UNB) - Mentioning that the Myanmar government is unwilling to resolve the crisis, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad said it is left up to the international community to do something about it.
“It’s clear that the Myanmar government is unwilling to resolve the crisis. Therefore, it’s left up to us - the international community - to do something about the situation,” said Mahathir.
He said this while addressing the High Level Side Event on Situation of Rohingya Minority in Myanmar Organised by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh and the OIC Secretariat at the Conference Room 11 of the UN Headquarters on Tuesday.
For a start, the UN should play its role in taking into account that it was established in hopes of preventing future human made miseries, he said adding, “Its silence is deafening."
Mahathir said without the Security Council’s action other must do their part to resolve the crisis and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Malaysia will continue to insist that the repatriation be done in a safe voluntary and dignified manner. This can only be done by granting full citizenship to the Rohingyas," he said.
Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas. File photo/AP
The situation in Myanmar is not any better and many Rohingyas have become internally-displaced persons (IDPs) languishing in camps in Rakhaine.
"When the world likened the IDP camps to those notorious concentration camps of the past the Myanmar government has been quick to deny," Mahathir said.
Yet the Myanmar authorities have denied access to some UN officials and humanitarian aid workers, the Malaysian PM said, "If Myanmar has nothing to hide why bar others from seeing the situation in Rakhaine? Let these officials and aid workers visit, inspect and assist those living in the camps. Myanmar should demonstrate that it’s serious in alleviating the crisis."
Mahathir mentioned that two attempts have been made to repatriate some of the refugees, both have failed. “Reasons for these are obvious. No one would return if they do not feel that their safety is guaranteed.”
He, however, mentioned that the Myanmar authorities had manipulated the Rohingya issue to inside fear, hatred and violence. "Thus, merely considering the idea of granting citizenship is unacceptable. It’s obvious that Myanmar's attempt on ensuring accountability has failed. How would such an attempt work if the perpetrators responsible for the atrocities are part of the system?"
Mahathir commended the positive efforts of the OIC in addressing the Rohingya issue at the international fora. "And for the decision to bring the matter to the International Court of Justice, we hope other countries would support the OIC to ensure that the perpetrators do not get away with the heinous crimes that they have committed."
Highlighting Malaysia's humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas, Mahathir said, "We’ll continue to help the Rohingyas within our means and capacity."
Malaysia has done and will continue to do what it can. "Nevertheless we hope others would also join us and Bangladesh in our resolve to end the miseries that have befallen on the Rohingyas. We need to put an end to the crisis and we need to do it now."
Terming atrocities on Rohingyas as genocide he said, "Let’s start by calling a spade, a spade. What happened in the Rakhine state is genocide."
"What took place were the mass killings, systematic rape and other gross violation of human rights. These resulted in Rohingyas fleeing the country en masse-- most ended up in Cox's Bazar. On this, we commend Bangladesh for all it has done in hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees," Mhathir added.