Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Sunday said Bangladesh is eager to intensify political, trade, economic and cultural connections with the ASEAN countries.
Bangladesh also wants to develop sectoral cooperation with the countries, he said.
Momen said having strong ties with the ASEAN countries is by any standard a key foreign policy priority of the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. With a large manufacturing base, Bangladesh stands to be one of ASEAN’s strongest partners and an attractive destination for the ASEAN investors.
The foreign minister suggested that Bangladesh and ASEAN countries can forge partnership, giving priority to the issues like poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, climate change, water resources management, migration, disaster management, agriculture and ICT.
Given geographic proximity, historical linkages, civilizational commonalities and contemporary convergence of views, Momen said Bangladesh believes that it can be one of ASEAN’s strongest partners.
“Bangladesh, which itself is one of the fastest growing economies of the Asia Pacific region and has a rapidly growing middle class, can be a huge market for the ASEAN countries,” he said adding that with its large manufacturing base, Bangladesh can also be a source of competitive imports for the ASEAN countries.
He said Bangladesh can be an attractive destination for ASEAN investors, who are looking for good returns on their investment. With its unique geographical location, Bangladesh can act as a “bridge” between South Asia and South East Asia acting as a gateway to the land locked countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Northeast India for the ASEAN countries.
About the Rohingya repatriation issue, Momen said that the prolonged presence of such a huge number displaced people entails serious ramifications for the socio-political stability of not only Bangladesh but also of the entire region including the ASEAN.
“Out of a humanitarian consideration Bangladesh is sheltering to 1.1 million Myanmar nationals who were forcibly evicted from their homeland,” the Bangladesh foreign minister said and sought intervention from the ASEAN for a speedy repatriation of the Rohingyas to their motherland.