‘We would like to see how South Asia becomes a part of Obama’s Rebalancing Asia policy. We cannot ignore 1.6 billion consumers in South Asia’, observed by Fatema Sumar, the visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia (regional affairs) while she was paying a courtesy call on State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam at Hotel Ruposhi Bangla, Dhaka today.
US Ambassador Dan Mozena and Director General (Americas) Mahfuzur Rahman were present in the meeting. The State Minister apprised on the progress Bangladesh has made so far after the tragic incident of Rana Plaza collapse. He informed her that it took lot of dedication and commitment from all parties/stakeholders to bring such changes. He said that the government is in the process of amending EPZ acts to confirm it to the existing Labour Act (2013).
The Deputy Assistant Secretary maintained that although there are some challenges in the relationship between Bangladesh and the USA, these should not impede the advancement of our relationship; rather we should explore other potentials and work on those. She also appreciated the improvement in the garments sector while noted that there is a remarkable difference in this sector between pre and post Rana Plaza incident.
During the meeting, addressing the interest of the Deputy Assistant Secretary about regional connectivity especially with India and Myanmar, the State Minister informed that Bangladesh is having multimodal connectivity with India which spans from physical connectivity for transportation of goods to energy cooperation. He stated that interlinking electric grid of Bangladesh and India is a success story of energy cooperation. He also mentioned about Bangladesh-China-India–Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor initiatives which is aimed at connecting Kunming, China in the east with Kolkata, India in the west with Mandalay of Myanmar as well as Dhaka and Chittagong of Bangladesh.
In another note, Shahriar Alam mentioned how Bangladesh is engaged with Myanmar despite refugee and undocumented nationals of Myanmar issue and expressed concern for not registering Rohingyas as citizen of Myanmar. He also expected that Bangladesh–USA relation would be strengthened in the days to come and despite some challenges both the countries needed to explore new opportunities.