Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the Bangladesh-Bhutan Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) would further consolidate the relations between the two neighbouring countries for mutual benefit, reports BSS.
“The PTA which both sides signed today will contribute to further consolidating the relations between our two countries,” she said, joining the signing ceremony virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence in the capital.She added that the PTA signing was held today to make the day memorable as on this day in 1971, Bhutan became the first country in the world to recognise Bangladesh’s independence and it marks the 50th anniversary of bilateral and diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“It is time to make our extraordinary relations even more meaningful for mutual benefits and for the overall development and well-being of our citizens. It is in this spirit that we have signed today the Bangladesh-Bhutan PTA,” said the premier.
Noting that it is a historic moment, she said Bangladesh is signing its first ever PTA with any country in the world and this country is also the first country that recognized Bangladesh as a sovereign and independent state after the War of Liberation in 1971.
Under this agreement, Sheikh Hasina said, a wide range of products from Bangladesh and Bhutan can find duty-free entry into each other’s markets, adding that the PTA also has a provision for including an additional list of products through mutual consensus.
“Once the agreement comes into force, I believe more people in Bangladesh can have access to fresh Bhutanese apples and oranges, while the fashion-conscious people of Bhutan can choose from more varieties of quality apparels from Bangladesh,” she hoped.
The PM also said that infrastructure projects in Bangladesh can further benefit from boulder stones from Bhutan, while Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals can increase contribution to the health sector in Bhutan.Besides, Bangladesh and Bhutan share ancient linkages, common cultural values, tradition and geo-political realities. Today, the areas of cooperation are many, including trade, tourism, hydro-power, climate change impacts, health, bio-diversity, agro-processing, agriculture, ICT, education, water resource management and much more, she continued.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and Bhutan’s Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma signed the PTA on behalf of their respective countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering witnessed the signing ceremony joining the event virtually respectively from Ganabhaban in Dhaka and Thimphu in Bhutan.
During the ratification of the treaty, both the prime ministers unveiled a logo virtually, marking the 50-year friendship between Bangladesh and Bhutan. Both the PMs later cut cakes in celebration of signing the PTA agreement and 50 years of diplomatic and bilateral relations between the countries.
Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, M.P, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Foreign Minister of Bhutan Tandi Dorji and its Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma spoke on the occasion while Commerce Secretary Dr Jafar Uddin gave the welcome address.
Among others, PM’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) President Sheikh Fazle Fahim and Ambassador of Bhutan to Bangladesh Kutshab Rinchen Kuentsyl witnessed signing of the PTA from Bangladesh site while Bangladesh Ambassador to Bhutan AKM Shahidul Karim from Bhutan end.