Foreign Office Consultation held between Bangladesh and Singapore. The Second Foreign Office Consultation between Bangladesh and Singapore was held on 28 October 2015 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, in a very cordial and productive atmosphere. The Bangladesh delegation was led by the Foreign Secretary, Md. Shahidul Haque and the Singapore delegation was led by the Permanent Secretary of Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albert Chua.
High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Singapore and High officials from the Power Division, Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also took part in the consultation. The day long consultation looked at all aspects of the relationship. In the morning, the Foreign Secretary also paid a courtesy call on the Senior State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Maliki Osman and exchanged views on mutual interests and concerns.
The Foreign Secretary highlighted Bangladesh’s stable political and economic environment and potential for a long sustained economic growth hailed by various global institutions including the World Bank and how the country is firmly moving ahead to achieve the status of middle income country by 2021 under the wise leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Foreign Secretary invited the Singapore side to take note of the prospect of Bangladesh as a preferred destination for relocation of manufacturing industries and fast growing domestic demand for consumer goods as every year around 2 million people are being added to the middle-income class. He suggested that Singaporean investors might take advantage of the potentials and invest more in Bangladesh.
Welcoming the ongoing Singaporean investment ventures in the power generation sector, the Foreign Secretary invited further Singaporean investment in the areas of power distribution sector and the information technology. The Singapore side informed that Singaporean investors were increasingly interested to invest in Bangladesh, particularly in the areas of power, township and industrial parks, food services and oil and gas exploration.
The Foreign Secretary highlighted that Bangladesh is developing 100 Economic Zones to provide suitable infrastructure for foreign investors. Referring to the positive response received from other leading global and regional economies, he encouraged the Singapore side to take advantage of it.
Referring to the fast growing IT sector of Bangladesh and its potential, the Foreign Secretary sought support from Singapore for capacity building in that area to turn the IT sector. The Singapore side responded positively and suggested for increased interaction between IT authorities of the two countries. In this connection, the Singapore side invited a delegation from Bangladesh to visit and meet the concerned authorities and private sector in Singapore. Both the sides agreed to work jointly to enhance E-governance and E-commerce in Bangladesh.
They also discussed ways and means to enhance cooperation in the area of air and cargo services. The Foreign Secretary requested to increase the number and scope of training opportunities and thanked Singapore Government for providing training courses to Bangladesh Government Officials. The Foreign Secretary also thanked the Singapore for hosting around 160,000 Bangladesh workers and hoped that Bangladesh workers would continue to contribute to the development of Singapore.
The Foreign Secretary also requested to keep open the opportunities for Bangladesh workers to continue to seek job opportunities in Singapore. Responding positively, the Permanent Secretary praised the dedication and professionalism of Bangladesh workers and mentioned that they were being appointed to higher grades because of their qualities and qualifications.
Both the countries expressed satisfaction over the level of cooperation at the UN and other multilateral forums. They also exchanged views on issues like Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), combating climate change and violent extremism. Both the sides agreed to work jointly to develop eco-friendly sustainable cities for their citizens.
The Foreign Secretary briefed the Singapore side on Bangladesh’s contribution in formulating the SDGs, how Bangladesh has positioned itself at the forefront of the global fight against climate change under the leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The issue of violent extremism was also deliberated.
The Foreign Secretary elaborated the zero tolerance policy of Bangladesh against violent extremism. Both the sides agreed to work together in the area. Views were also exchanged on regional and international issues of mutual interest.
In the backdrop of Bangladesh’s admirable success in economic and social development and strong desire to push the existing relations with Singapore to a higher level, the Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) has played a significant role to generate further momentum for greater engagement between the two countries in future.