Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) – Bangladesh has requested for early establishment of direct air link between Dhaka and Hanoi and easing Vietnamese visa for the Bangladeshi businesspeople and tourists.
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque made the request during a meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the Vietnam Foreign Ministry, Hanoi on Wednesday.
Referring to the friendly ties between Bangladesh and Vietnam, Shahidul emphasised on exploiting the complementarities between the two countries in trade, investment, agriculture, SMEs and other areas of cooperation.
The Vietnamese Foreign Minister responded saying Hanoi attaches value to its ties with Dhaka; and looked forward to exploring potential areas of cooperation in concrete terms, said the Foreign Ministry here.
Highlighting that the annual bilateral trade has already surpassed US$ one billion mark, he emphasised on early convening of the Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) as well as Joint Trade Commission in Vietnam.
Both of them also agreed on greater exchange of visits at the official level and deepening of people-to-people contact.
The Foreign Secretary, earlier, addressed a discussion on ‘Missed Opportunity: Diaspora Networks’ at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual Asean Summit and called for re-looking at diaspora.
He called for the origin societies to value their diaspora across countries as “asset” for the country to attract and mobilise them in the development of the origin country.
The Foreign Secretary stressed on public policies to be proactive and flexible, societies to be welcoming and facilitating to attract and sustain the members of their diaspora in respective countries.
He cited various polices adopted by the Bangladesh government in engaging Bangladeshi diaspora from the world over in its development.
The discussion was moderated by Reuters Associate Editor Clara Ferreira Marques and joined by Jose Isidro Camacho, Vice-Chairman of Asia-Pacific Credit Suisse AG, Professor of London School of Economics and Political Science Lutfey Siddiqi.
The Foreign Secretary discussed with Borge Brende, President of the WEF, issues of interests between Bangladesh and the WEF.
He had a TV interview by the CNN on the Rohingya issue where he highlighted a range of humanitarian and generous steps taken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in addressing the issue, situation of the Rohingya people in Bangladesh and the status of their repatriation in light of his recent visit to Myanmar.
Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) - Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury on Wednesday said the garment industry has demonstrated a ‘revolution’ in the country following timely steps taken by the government and working plans that boosted its growth.
“The growth of the textile industry has generated huge employment opportunities, especially for women, apart from contributing to the economic development of the country,” she said.
The Speaker was addressing the inaugural ceremony of 19th Textech Bangladesh 2018, 14th Dhaka International Yarn & Fabric Show 2018 and 33rd Dye+Chem Bangladesh 2018 at International Convention City Bashundhara in the city.
She said the garment industry is now contributing 15 percent to the GDP (Gross Domestic Products) with amounts to US$ 30 billion.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla said India's development cooperation with Bangladesh has grown tremendously in size and coverage over the last few years.
“India is a committed development partner of Bangladesh,” he said.
State Minister, Ministry of Textile and Jute Mirza Azam, President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, President, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Rudra Chatterjee, Vice President, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA). Fazlee Shameem Ehsan, Vice President, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) Mohammed Nasir and President & Group Managing Director, CEMS Global-USA & Asia Pacific, Meherul N Islam were present.
With the extension of a third Line of Credit of US$ 5 billion during the visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India in April 2017, the total amount extended by India under Lines of Credit to Bangladesh stands at US$ 8 billion which is the largest extended by India to any country, said the High Commissioner.
Bangladesh readymade garments industry has emerged as the leading contributor to the Bangladesh economy.
With exports worth US$ 30.61 billion, the garments industry accounts for nearly 84 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports and contributes nearly 15 percent to its GDP. Bangladesh is also the second largest exporter of garments in the world.
Shringla said Bangladesh’s exports of readymade garments to India have also seen substantial growth since receiving duty-free quota and free access to the Indian market in 2011.
“Bangladesh’s RMG exports in the year 2017-18 jumped by 115 percent to USD 278.68 million from USD 129.81 million in 2016-17. India is now emerging as one of the fastest growing markets for Bangladesh’s garment exporters,” he said.
The High Commissioner said India is also one of the biggest sources of raw materials and machineries for the Bangladesh RMG industry.
“A large part of India’s exports to India consist of inputs for the Bangladesh industry. Around one-fourth of Bangladesh’s demand for raw cotton and yarn is met by Indian suppliers,” he said.
Textile machinery exports from India to the world are also witnessing a remarkable growth.
Shringla said Indian exports grew by 20.03 percent to US$ 739.49 million in 2017-18 over the previous fiscal year.
Apart from Bangladesh, India is exporting textile machinery to several countries including Germany, Netherlands, Indonesia, Italy, the UAE and Turkey. Indian textile engineering industry has a large production capacity for textile machinery, parts and accessories with over fourteen hundred units spread all over India.
Indian Chamber of Commerce arranged an India pavilion with the participation of over 50 Indian companies from textile engineering sector in Textech Bangladesh.
“As a neighbour, India is ideally positioned to provide textile machinery and other raw materials to Bangladesh at lower prices and delivery times,” said the High Commissioner.
Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) - A 19-member delegation of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) on Wednesday called for the sustainable return of Rohingyas as the delegation completed a three-day visit to Bangladesh.
The delegation member visited Rohingya camps on Wednesday to observe firsthand the situation of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar sheltered in Cox’s Bazar district.
They called upon all the PUIC Member Parliaments to continue their efforts together with those of the international community and the UN in order to ensure sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas to their ancestral homeland in Rakhine State in safety, security, dignity, and with full right of citizenship.
Learning about the dire circumstances which forced the Rohingyas to flee their homeland, the delegation condemned the systematic brutal acts committed by the Myanmar forces against this community.
They assured Bangladesh of taking up the issue with their respective parliaments, said the Foreign Ministry here.
During their visit, the delegation met Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and took a tour of the Bangladesh Parliament.
They also met State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The delegation included PUIC Secretary General Prof Dr Mahmud Erol Klilic and the Members of Parliament from six member states of PUIC, namely Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Sudan and Turkey.
The PUIC delegation visited Bangladesh following a decision of the 13th PUIC Conference in Tehran in January 2018, which mandated the member states to visit Rohingya camps in Bangladesh to take stock of their condition and consider the possibility of extending humanitarian aid to the displaced.
The 45th OIC CFM held in Dhaka earlier in May this year garnered special attention and solidarity of the largest association of Muslim countries on the Rohingya issue.
Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) - The government of Bangladesh and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday jointly reviewed ADB-assisted projects of Bangladesh to further improve development results.
As of 31 August 2018, ADB’s cumulative lending to Bangladesh stood at around $22 billion for 284 loans, $263 million for 435 technical assistance projects, and $922 million for 41 grants.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash co-chaired the Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting (TPRM) in the city.
The TPRM discussed the status of overall portfolio and prioritised actions to achieve targets. The government project executing agencies were briefed about and encouraged to use the new procurement policy approved in 2017.
Over 190 senior government officials, project directors, and ADB staff participated in the second such review meeting in 2018.
“The review is intended to deliver development results faster to people by accelerating project implementation through early identification and quick resolution of project implementation issues,” said Country Director Manmohan Parkash.
“We’re encouraged by the higher contract awards and disbursements, and look forward to achieving a record performance in 2018. The performance is even more impressive, given that ADB portfolio in Bangladesh has increased by 17 percent during January-August 2018 over the same period in 2017,” Parkash added.
ADB has currently 94 loans and grants for 55 projects with over $9.5 billion under sovereign portfolio.
During January-August 2018, ADB approved and committed loans for Bangladesh are over $1.6 billion.
Contract awards are higher by 123 percent with around $1 billion, and disbursements are higher by 46 percent with $586 million, compared to the same period in 2017, said the ADB.
More projects worth over $600 million are proposed to be approved before the end of the year, thus the total approvals are likely to exceed $2 billion in 2018.
ADB focuses its cooperation in Bangladesh on six sectors - energy; transport; water and urban/municipal infrastructure and services; education; finance; and agriculture, natural resources, and rural development.
Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) - People globally face harsh reprisals and intimidation for cooperating with the United Nations on human rights, a “shameful practice,” a major UN report warns.
This trend deters others from engaging with the UN and results in “self-censorship.”
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, the senior UN official designated to address the issue, will present the report to the Human Rights Council on September 19.
A total of 29 countries in which new cases are listed in the report are Bahrain, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela.
The annual report on reprisals of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the ninth of its kind, details country by country cases in two annexes, including allegations of killing, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, surveillance, criminalisation, and public stigmatisation campaigns targeting victims and human rights defenders.
It includes allegations of reprisals and intimidation documented in a total of 38 countries. Some of the States are current members of the Human Rights Council, according to a message UNB received from Geneva.
Some have featured in the annual report on reprisals nearly every year since it was instituted in 2010.
“The cases of reprisals and intimidation detailed in this report and its two annexes represent the tip of the iceberg, while many more are reported to us. We’re also increasingly seeing legal, political and administrative hurdles used to intimidate – and silence - civil society,” said Andrew Gilmour.
The report noted that selectively applied laws and new legislation are used to restrict and obstruct organizations that are likely to cooperate with the UN. This includes limiting their ability to secure and maintain funding, especially from foreign donors.
The impact of fear of reprisals is not only visible in the field, where United Nations personnel often encounter people too afraid to speak with them, but also at headquarters in New York, Geneva, and elsewhere, the report says.
The report highlights a “disturbing trend in the use of national security arguments and counter-terrorism strategies by States as justification for blocking access by communities and civil society organizations to the United Nations.”
It noted that a number of NGOs, human rights defenders, activists and experts have been labelled as “terrorists” by their governments. Reported cases include individuals or organisations being officially charged with terrorism, blamed for cooperation with foreign entities, or accused of damaging the reputation or security of the State.
“States have frequently invoked counter-terrorism as the reason an organisation or individual should be denied access to participation at the United Nations. The real global threat of terrorism notwithstanding, this issue must be tackled without compromising respect for human rights,” the report says.
The wide scope of reprisals inhibits the UN’s work in many ways, including in conflict settings, when delivering humanitarian assistance or in protecting civilians, and in the development context, where community members who engage on land and resource-related projects frequently encounter a hostile environment.
The report recognised that the United Nations must strengthen the collection of information on acts of intimidation and reprisal, including do more to ensure that incidents experienced by women human rights defenders and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons are documented, disaggregated and properly analysed.
It also encouraged all stakeholders to report allegations of intimidation and reprisals for cooperating with the UN on human rights as they occur, to ensure follow-up and action.
“As the Secretary-General has said, we should all be deeply shocked and angered by the extent to which civil society actors suffer reprisals because of their work, including when they cooperate with the UN. But shock and anger must translate into real action. Governments can do much more to stop reprisals, ensure that they do not recur, and hold those responsible to account for their actions,” said Gilmour.
The report called on States to follow up on the cases included in the present and previous reports and provide substantive responses.