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Major Breakthrough in DFQF Market Access to Thailand

The first Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) between Bangladesh and Thailand was held on 25 June 2015 at the State Guest House Meghna. Foreign Secretary, Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, led a nine-member Bangladesh delegation while the Permanent Secretary of Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Norachit Sinhaseni, also led a nine-member delegation in the discussion.

The Meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere. At the outset, the Permanent Secretary paid a high tribute to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, while the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary also paid a rich tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibal of Thailand.

In the meeting bilateral trade received a major focus. The Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh welcomed the decision of the Thai Government to give duty free quota free (DFQF) access to 6998 tariff lines and requested to include additional 15 items in the list. The Thai Permanent Secretary assured to consider it in the next DFQF review.

The two sides also agreed to create a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Investment and JWG on Health Services and Bangladesh proposed to host the first meetings of both the JWGs. It was agreed that an MOU between the Bangladesh Accreditation Board (BAB) and the Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) would be finalized.

The Thai Permanent Secretary informed that the 4th meeting of the Joint Trade Committee (JTC), headed by the two Commerce Ministers, might be held towards the end of 2015. Bangladesh. They also agreed to hold the 7th Commission Meeting in Dhaka around the same time.

The issue of connectivity also received a major focus during the discussion. Thailand assured to welcome proposal to connect the BCIM corridor to the ASEAN Corridor and for this both sides agreed to create a JWG on Connectivity. Bangladesh further proposed connectivity between Chittagong Port of Bangladesh and Ranong Port of Thailand and air-connectivity between Bangkok and Cox’s Bazar to promote bilateral trade, investment and tourism, especially Buddhist Circuit Tourism.

The Bangladesh Foreign Secretary mentioned that Special Tourism Zones could be offered to Thailand. Bangladesh also expressed its interest to connect to the Mekong-Ganges Cooperation forum to enhance its connectivity with Thailand and other ASEAN countries. Considering the significant amount of potential mutual benefits, Thailand assured its positive consideration to extend cooperation in this regard.

Considering the demand for labor in Thai market, the two sides agreed to form a JWG on employment to consider finalization of an MOU on employment of Bangladesh workers in Thailand.

On trans-national crimes including money laundering and drug trafficking, it was agreed that to establish effective collaboration between the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) of Thailand and the Special Branch of Bangladesh and to combat transnational crimes, an MOU could be signed. They also agreed to establish a bilateral forum to address issues related to trans-national crimes.

To strengthen cooperation in the fields of tourism and culture, it was agreed that two separate MOUs will be finalized and implemented at the earliest. On cooperation in the area of Blue Economy, both the leaders acknowledged the importance of collaboration to enhance deep sea fishing capacity, sea-bed exploration and use of ocean-based renewable energy.

The two leaders also agreed to conclude the visa waiver agreement for diplomatic and official passports at the earliest.

The two Foreign Secretaries committed to strengthen cooperation in the multilateral forums for the sake of ensuring stronger regional ties. Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh stressed that for effective collaboration between Bangladesh and ASEAN, it was important that Bangladesh becomes a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN. Thai Permanent Secretary assured of his cooperation in this regard.

Both the leaders agreed to hold the next bilateral consultations in Thailand at mutually convenient date and time in 2016.

Later, the Thai Permanent Secretary also paid a courtesy call on the Hon’ble Foreign Minister at his office. The Hon’ble Foreign Minister expressed his satisfaction on successful completion of the bilateral consultations and conveyed an invitation to the Thai Foreign Minister to hold the next Joint Commission Meeting in Dhaka towards the end of 2015.

The Thai delegation left for Bangkok at night on the same day.

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