Bangladesh has received a positive response from Mexico regarding a proposal for enhancing military cooperation and sharing its vast experience in the tourism sector.
The Mexican side has confirmed that their country will reciprocate this kind gesture of Bangladesh by sending a military delegation to Dhaka to participate in the forthcoming Victory Day celebration in December next.
Bangladesh has already shown its interest by sending a 39-member military contingent who participated in the 200-year Celebration of Mexican Independence at the National Palace in Mexico City.
The issues were discussed at the first-ever Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) between Bangladesh and Mexico held virtually on Tuesday.
Both sides expressed their firm convictions in finding new avenues to further deepen the existing friendly bilateral relationship.
Toufiq Islam Shatil, Director General (Americas) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka led the Bangladesh Delegation whereas Ambassador Claudia Franco Hijuelos, Director General (Asia-Pacific) of Mexican Foreign Ministry led the Mexican delegation.
As members of the delegations of their respective countries, Bangladesh Ambassador to Mexico, Abida Islam and Federico Salas Lotfe Ambassador of Mexico to India, concurring to Bangladesh, actively participated in the discussions.
The Bangladesh delegation consisted of representatives from Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Cultural Affairs, as well as from National Board of Revenue (NBR).
The entire gamut of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Mexico were discussed during the meeting with focus on the economy and trade, exchanges between Foreign Service academies, bilateral cooperation in cultural, gender equality, defence and tourism, including visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders.
While taking stock of the overall state of Bangladesh-Mexico relations, the leader of the Bangladesh delegation stressed the importance of regular exchange of high-level visits and increased engagements to further foster the friendly ties between the two countries.
He also emphasized the need for carrying forward the momentum that was created during the successful visit of State Minister of Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam in September 2021 while attending the 200-year celebration of Mexican Independence.
The Bangladesh side requested for opening a resident mission of Mexico in Dhaka in the near future. The Mexican side proposed to form a Parliamentary Friendship Group between lawmakers of two countries.
Trade and Investment
In the area of trade and investment, Bangladesh highlighted the impressive investment possibilities and benefits provided by the government to foreign investors.
In response, the Mexican side showed its keen interest in the sector of construction and auto parts industries in Bangladesh.
Terming economic affairs as a key aspect and one of the priorities in foreign policy, both sides agreed to create a Joint Working Group between the governments to explore the potential untapped areas and take advantage of their respective economic opportunities.
Referring to the recently concluded MoU between COMCE and the FBCCI in September 2021, the two sides stressed frequent engagements, even in virtual platforms, in the coming days.
With regards to the Agreement on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, the Mexican side conveyed that upon review of the draft Agreement, they will share it with its Bangladesh counterparts for their consideration.
Under the segment of bilateral cooperation, the MoU between Diplomatic Academies, Promotion of Gender Equality, MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Culture as well as Cooperation in the Field of Higher Education were discussed.
It has been learned from the Mexican side that the discussion with regards to the MoU regarding an exchange program between the Diplomatic Academies of Mexico and Bangladesh is ongoing and is expected to be concluded soon.
The issue of gender equality features prominently during the discussion and both sides agreed to work closely and share their best practices to promote gender equality in their respective organizations and countries.
The Mexican side further stated that the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico is presently reviewing the MoU regarding cultural cooperation proposed by the Bangladesh side and Mexican Secretariat of Public Education is still working with the proposed MoU of Bangladesh on Cooperation in the Field of Higher Education.
During the consultations, the two sides also discussed possible cooperation in mutually beneficial areas at regional and multilateral level including the United Nations.
To improve the people-to-people contacts, the Bangladesh side requested the Mexican government to establish a Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) Center in Dhaka or adopt any other mechanisms so that Bangladesh nationals could provide all the required information including the biometrics without traveling to India.
He also requested to exempt visas for diplomatic and official passport holders.
Currently, in absence of a Mexican Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladeshi visa seekers have to travel to New Delhi to provide their biometrics to obtain a Mexican visa and the situation has further worsened owing to the restrictions and limitations associated with COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambassador Claudia Franco took note of the concerns of Bangladesh and said that Mexico is continuously evaluating the need for opening new consular offices in different parts of the world.
However, the Director General (Consular Affairs), who was also present at the meeting, assured to find ways to bring both the countries closer in terms of people-to-people contacts.
Regarding the exemption of visas for diplomatic and official passport holders, Ambassador Claudia Franco said that the concerned office is reviewing the draft to find out the likelihood of this agreement.
Both sides appreciated the candid exchange of ideas and based on the momentum created by the consultation, intended to enhance their progress for mutual benefit in the days ahead.
The 2nd FOC is expected to take place during the second half of 2022 preferably in person if the conditions permit, either in Mexico City or Dhaka, at a mutually convenient date and time.