Bangladesh, Brunei for comprehensive partnership in energy sector

Bandar Seri Begawan: Bangladesh and Brunei today issued a joint statement agreeing to explore the possibility of comprehensive collaboration in energy sector as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrapped up her three-day visit to the Southeast Asian kingdom.

‘Given the growing demand of energy in Bangladesh to support the rapid economic growth, both sides agreed to explore the possibility of comprehensive collaboration in the energy sector via a Government-to-Government (G2G) arrangement including liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply to Bangladesh,’ the joint statement said, reports the UNB.

It said the Bangladesh premier and Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah also agreed for public and private sector engagements of the two countries to explore collaboration in areas like investments and trade in petro-chemicals, offshore oil and gas exploration, technical collaboration, and capacity building.

Sheikh Hasina is set to return home later today ending her official visit to Brunei Darussalam at invitation of Sultan Bolkiah coinciding with the 35th anniversary of bilateral ties.

According to the statement the two leaders recognised the potential for investments and will encourage the promotion of reciprocal investments between the two countries in their mutual interest, particularly in sectors such as food processing, energy, ICT, ship-building, manufacturing, tourism infrastructure, blue economy and the jute industry.

Brunei Darussalam expressed interest to explore participation in the global ‘halal food market’ by taking advantage of the special economic zones of Bangladesh and the proven expertise of Brunei in halal food industry.

‘Both sides will, subject to mutual agreement and capacity requirement, further strengthen cooperation in the health sector such as training and recruitment of healthcare professionals, manufacturing and trade in pharmaceuticals, as well as collaboration in specialised healthcare services,’ the statement read.

The countries encouraged closer cooperation among the financial institutions of the two countries to enhance the operation of financial services for effective facilitation of bilateral trade and exchanges.

The two sides agreed to further deepen cooperation in the regional and international fora including the United Nations; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC); the Commonwealth and the ASEAN Regional Forum on issues of common interest and concerns including extremism, terrorism, environmental protection; and sustainable development. Both leaders acknowledged Bangladesh’s continued interest to strengthen its relations with ASEAN and agreed that there is much potential in developing cooperation that can be mutually beneficial.

‘Brunei Darussalam acknowledged Bangladesh’s humanitarian assistance and repatriation initiatives for 1.1 million displaced persons from the Rakhine State, temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh,’ the statement said.

It added that Brunei commended Bangladesh humanitarian gesture and generous assistance as well as the efforts towards their safe, dignified, voluntary, and sustainable repatriation.

‘Bangladesh appreciated the continued invaluable support and contribution of the government of the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam including financial assistance and provision of critical medical and health assistance to the field hospital in Cox’s Bazar,’ the statement said.

Brunei Sultan commended the prime minister on Bangladesh’s remarkable economic development growth and outstanding achievements in the social sectors under her prudent leadership.

He also congratulated Bangladesh for successfully fulfilling the eligibility criteria set by the United Nations to be elevated and recognised as a developing country.

Brunei Darussalam acknowledged the success of Bangladesh in the food and agricultural sector and welcomed collaboration with Bangladesh in agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and livestock sectors.

The two sides will explore potential bilateral trade in agricultural and food products, and collaboration in farming and agro-processing taking into account respective national development priorities.

The leaders acknowledged the potentials in enhancing bilateral trade and encouraged active exchanges between their local business people to enhance and explore collaboration and partnership to synergise their respective strengths for maximising export opportunities.

They will actively consider the possibility of a preferential trade arrangement under appropriate mechanism and to conduct a joint feasibility study to this effect.

Expressing satisfaction on the friendly and long-standing relations between the two countries, the leaders exchanged views on their bilateral relations and encouraged both sides to explore ways to strengthen their cooperation to elevate the relationship to new heights.

Recognising the importance of people-to-people exchanges in the strengthening of bilateral relations, the leaders agreed to continue efforts to foster wider and deeper collaboration among the academic institutions through visits, training programmes, student and staff mobility, information exchange, and research and development.

The two sides agreed to actively consider improving the connectivity between the two countries and welcomed an early signing of the Air Services Agreement.

The two sides expressed satisfaction over existing cooperation and engagements among the defence forces of the two countries in mutually beneficial areas including personnel training.

Both sides will encourage deeper cooperation in defence particularly in capacity building, knowledge sharing, peace-building and humanitarian operations.

Stressing the need for frequent exchanges of officials of all levels to explore new potential areas for the mutual benefit, the leaders welcomed the convening of the First Foreign Office Consultation in Dhaka on 9 September 2018 and looked forward to the Second Foreign Office Consultation in Bandar Seri Begawan in 2020.

The leaders acknowledged the valuable contributions of expatriate workers in the economic development of both sending and receiving states and in this regard, encouraged their officials to explore the possibility of negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Labour Cooperation with consultation mechanism.

The prime minister congratulated the sultan on the commendable progress of Brunei Darussalam under his visionary leadership that had also contributed to preserving the peace, stability and prosperity of Brunei Darussalam.

The premier also commended the sultan for the significant achievements in the implementation of Brunei Darussalam’s strategic national development policies under Wawasan 2035.

The sultan acknowledged the contributions of the government of Bangladesh under the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to global peace, migration, environment protection, development, and humanitarian operation as well as their wide participation in the United Nations-led peacekeeping missions.

The prime minister expressed gratitude to the sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and it’s people for according a warm welcome and generous hospitality to her and the entourage and extended an invitation to the Sultan to visit Bangladesh at his earliest convenient time.

An official bilateral meeting led by the two leaders took place in a cordial and friendly atmosphere at Istana Nurul Iman on Monday.

During the visit, the leaders witnessed the signing of six Memoranda of Understanding on scientific and technical cooperation in agriculture, fisheries and livestock; supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG); youth and sports; and culture and arts.

The leaders also welcomed the Exchange of Notes on the visa waiver arrangement for diplomatic and official passport holders for both countries.

The two leaders expressed conviction that these bilateral instruments will take the relationship between the two countries to new heights in the future.