Indian Ocean: Dhaka for effective info exchange network
Publish- March 14, 2021, 03:15 PM
UNB NEWS - UNB NEWS
Update- March 14, 2021, 11:06 PM
An effective information exchange network may be considered as agreed in the first case by all the member states to ensure freedom and safety of navigation overcoming overall maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean and readily respond to any challenges at sea, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday.
"We look forward to having a new world with more cooperation and connections for responding to the challenges," he said.
The Foreign Minister said if there is a clear quest for more cultural, economic, politics and even strategic emancipation from the large foreign powers and among the regional organisations, this does necessarily mean that a wide and dynamic regional cooperation may be successfully developed as normally expected.
Dr Momen was addressing the regional conference on ‘Connectivity in the Indo-Pacific (Ocean) Reconnecting peoples, facilitating human development for prosperity of all from the Bay of Bengal’ held at Independent University.
Vice Chancellor of Independent University Tanweer Hasan, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami, Bimstec Secretary General Ambassador Tenzin Lekphell, among others, spoke at the programme moderated by Ambassador Tariq A Karim, Director, Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies.
The Foreign Minister said the Indian Ocean is rich with untapped natural resources, some of the world’s largest reserves of gas and other seabed minerals. And it is increasingly believed to have the presence of oil.
Linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Bay of Bengal occupies a central position in relation to global economic ﬂows in a way that few other regions do, he said.
As a strategic funnel to the Malacca Straits and Lombok Strait, the region has been an important location in the strategic calculations of the great powers of the world and has grown in strategic importance for China and Japan, and India as well, Dr Momen said.
He said devising a comprehensive strategy for one of the most diverse, complex, and contested regions in the world is by no means an easy task, and no individual or organisation can comprehensively predict the best ways to grapple with Indo-Pacific Ocean strategy in the near future with any pinpoint accuracy.
The Indo-Pacific Ocean ‘construct’ may be governed by peace and prosperity of the Region focusing on socio-economic development of the region to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he said.
"It should also ensure establishing a meaningful relationship with other countries in the Indo Pacific to promote accelerated technological change in order to explore and exploit the oceanic resources to empower the youth and women; promote sustainable and equitable growth and decent employment in the region," Dr Momen said.
He said Bangladesh may broaden and deepen alliance cooperation and encourage the possible economic and security engagement with the littoral states under the umbrella of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
Bangladesh would be taking over as the Chair this year and at the same time strengthen Bangladesh’s Comprehensive and Strategic partnership with other countries which are also vital for both to pursue extensive bilateral interests.
Japanese Ambassador Ito Naoki said each country in the South Asia is struggling for economic development by enhancing connectivity through roads bridges and sea ports. “In this context, Bangladesh’s location is very important in terms of geographical position.”
He said their country thinks the development of Bangladesh is significant for overall stability and prosperity of the indo-pacific region and the entire world.
The Ambassador said it is essential to further promote Bangladesh’s development efforts so that the country can utilise its geographical advantage and increase its economic opportunities.
He said Japan is helping Bangladesh construct its first deep sea port at Matarbari. “This project is aimed at making Matarbari as a free and open regional hub.”
Once completed, the Japanese envoy said Matarbari will connect Bangladesh not only the south Asia as a whole but also the south East Asia and even to East Asia, including Japan.
For economic development in Bangladesh, he said Japan promotes cooperation in three particular areas, including development of economic infrastructure, improvement of investment environment and enhancement of connectivity.
Ito Naoki appreciated the construction of India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge over the Feni River as he thinks it is a significant achievement to enhance connectivity in the South Asia.
“There’s a momentum of connectivity in and out of Bangladesh…Japan will maintain this momentum,” he added.
Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami said the expansion of infrastructure for connectivity, for trade and transport is one of the big drivers of the partnership between India and Bangladesh.
‘We’ve recently inaugurated the friendship bridge across the Feni River, connecting Sabroom in South Tripura in the north eastern India to Bangladesh,” he said.
The Indian envoy Bangladesh can become the main driver of transportation and trade for the entire sub-region through enhancing its connectivity.
Apart from constructing big infrastructures, he also said there is a need for soft infrastructures like land custom stations, refrigeration points for the perishable items, and new regulatory systems that will allow the movement of goods seamlessly across the borders to capture the economic opportunities.
“I also underline the fact that infrastructure is not just roads, railways, waterways and the ports. It also includes electricity and energy connectivity. There’s a considerable opportunity for us to expand such connectivity among the countries in the sub region looking at the new regulatory infrastructure,” the Indian envoy said.
He said India is looking ahead to come up with an initiative to try and create a regional transport and connectivity commission, the kind the Europe already has for the technocratic solutions to simplify the movement of goods, people and energy products as seamlessly as possible across the borders.