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PM urges Commonwealth to make trade regime more sustainable

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pm-ssmplLONDON - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thursday called upon the Commonwealth members to work for making multilateral trade regime more inclusive and sustainable.

"We, the Commonwealth members, must work to further strengthen to make this (trade) regime more inclusive, fair and sustainable," she said, speaking at an event titled "A More Prosperous Future" (The [Windsor] Declaration on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment) on the opening day of the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) here.

In this regard, she said, early operationalization of the Commonwealth Trade Financing Facility launched at CHOGM 2015 in Malta is critical.

The premier said Bangladesh has always called for the promotion of a rules- based, transparent, inclusive and fair multilateral trade regime.

"Yet, the lack of any significant outcome of the 11th WTO ministerial meeting leaves us disappointed at the blocking of the pro-poor development-oriented agenda under the Doha Round of Trade Talks," she said.

The premier said physical connectivity is important in ensuring overall peace, progress and stability. "Multimodal physical connectivity links territories and communities and it's a cornerstone for regional economic cooperation and integration," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh, within its neighbourhood, has been working for the implementation of Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) sub regional connectivity project to promote people to people contact, trade and tourism in the region and beyond.

"We approach connectivity in a wider context. We believe in connecting ideas, knowledge, technology, culture, people, road-rail-air, movement of goods, services and investment," she said.

The prime minister thanked the Secretariat for preparing the draft revised Guidelines for Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries.

She said, "The Bangladesh delegation had provided comments on the draft at length and our Senior Officials discussed it during the meeting of the Committee of the Whole."

"While we understand the need to revise the original guidelines adopted in 1991, we also believe the revision should be approached systematically and pragmatically as part of the broader reforms of the Commonwealth," she added.

Sheikh Hasina said strengthening the political rights of the Commonwealth citizens is important, so is the strengthening of their economic, social and cultural rights and development aspirations.

"We need to coherently pursue democracy and development issues" she added.

"Since our birth as a nation", she said, pursuing the dream of a golden Bengal of Father of the Nation of Bangladesh and peace-centric domestic policies based on development aspirations and human rights of "our peoples have been our priority."

"We have devoted our energy to creating the right environment for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all our people," she said.

In order to deliver on the inviolability of the fundamental rights enshrined in Bangladesh Constitution, the government focused on developing and strengthening institutions that would safeguard these rights for the people.

In a hyper connected world, Sheikh Hasina said, "We cannot but focus on human mobility. In 2016, Bangladesh proposed the idea of a Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration in the UN".

"We believe that our responsibilities towards migrants and their rights should find a global voice," she said.

The prime minister welcomed the draft declaration of The [Windsor] Declaration on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment).

As the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said back in 1972 "Let us not fritter away our national resources but use them to lift the standard of living of our people," she recalled.

"As for us, we want to cooperate with all concerned for creating an area of peace in South Asia where we could live side by side as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for the benefit of our peoples," she said.

The premier said they are happy to see the connectivity finding its place in this declaration.