Free Trade Zones

Bangladesh offers free or preferential trade deal to Canada: FM Momen

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister has expressed Bangladesh’s willingness to enter into a Free or Preferential Trade Agreement (FTA) with Canada.

He made the statement during a virtual meeting between Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen MP and Canadian Minister for International Development Harjit Sajjan on February 14, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

The two ministers discussed a wide range of issues encompassing the Rohingya crisis, Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC status and the promotion of bilateral trade and investment, a press release read.

Noting that Canada and Bangladesh enjoy very close and friendly relations, the two ministers stressed that the two countries need to further consolidate their bilateral relations.

In the field of economic cooperation, the two ministers agreed that the recently created joint working group, namely “Blue Ribbon” and bringing together representatives of the private sector of the two countries, would contribute positively to the promotion of trade and investment.

Foreign Minister Momen, describing the huge investment opportunity in 100 special economic zones and 28 high-tech parks in Bangladesh along with a young and energetic workforce and a lucrative investment program, urged to greater Canadian investment, reads the statement.

In this regard, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh mentioned ICT as an emerging field in Bangladesh and felt that Canada could also invest in this sector.

The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh described the socio-economic progress that Bangladesh has made over the past decade.

AK Abdul Momen urged Minister Sajjan to undertake his postponed visit to Bangladesh soon, especially during the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.

Mentionably, the Canadian Minister’s planned visit to Bangladesh in December 2021 was postponed due to the deteriorating pandemic situation globally.

The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh stressed the need for a Heads of Government visit, especially in the context of the celebration of 50 years of independence.

He thanked Canada for its continued political and humanitarian support for displaced and persecuted Rohingya, including the ongoing genocide case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Emphasizing that the repatriation of displaced Rohingya remains a priority for Bangladesh and expressing concern that their prolonged stay could lead to a huge security threat and regional instability due to the possible emergence of extremism and terrorism in the camps, Foreign Minister Momen urged Canada to take a leadership role in resolving the crisis.

He also expressed satisfaction with the progress made in opening a direct flight between Dhaka and Toronto, stressing that it would improve business and people-to-people contacts, the statement added.

Noting that the number of Bangladeshi students studying in Canada is increasing, he called for Bangladesh to be included in the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program.

Foreign Minister Momen also appreciated Canada’s recent donation of Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh.

He also expressed Bangladesh’s strong expectation that Nur Chowdhury, the convicted assassin of the Father of the Nation, will be deported from Canada to Bangladesh, stressing that this would ensure justice and the rule of law.

Canada’s Minister for International Development appreciated Bangladesh’s impressive economic progress in recent years, including the exit from LDCs, the statement added.

He assured that he would discuss with the Canadian trade minister the possibility of extending the DFQF until 2030 and the possibility of signing an FTA or a PTA.

On the Rohingya issue, he welcomed that Bangladesh continues to host one million displaced Rohingya and agreed that the ultimate solution must be safe repatriation.

In this regard, he felt that these important international efforts should continue for repatriation; and Canada will continue its political and humanitarian support.

The Canadian minister, noting that the large Bangladeshi diaspora in Canada contributes positively to strengthening ties, stressed the need for more business and people-to-people contacts.

He noted that, like Bangladesh, Canada also likes to continue its peaceful role; and two countries should make use of economic cooperation opportunities, the statement read.

He assured Canada’s willingness to continue supporting Bangladesh’s socio-economic progress, including development assistance.

He also expressed his willingness to visit Bangladesh as soon as possible, whereupon the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh informed Minister Sajjan that he could visit Bangladesh at any time in the near future, depending on his convenience. .