Bangladesh on Saturday expressed its keen interest in concluding an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan considering the ‘growing synergies’ between the economies of the two countries.
The issue came up for discussions during bilateral talks between Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida at the Foreign Ministry in Dhaka on Saturday.
At the meeting, Bangladesh and Japan agreed to initiate working-level consultations to reach an understanding on regular Foreign Office Consultations, visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders as well as Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Fumio Kishida said Japan has its full confidence in Bangladesh’s march forward towards becoming a middle-income country by 2021 and looks forward to further strengthening bilateral relations based on a comprehensive partnership of cooperation.
He underscored the importance of democratic continuity in ensuring Bangladesh’s ongoing development process and said that his government did not support any form of violence in the democratic process.
The two Foreign Ministers exchanged views on a whole range of issues of bilateral, regional and international interest, said a Foreign Ministry media release.
The two sides also exchanged views on possible Japanese financing for some key mega-infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.
Mahmood Ali stressed that Japan could effectively contribute to promoting regional connectivity and integration, including through its support for the BCIM Economic Corridor.
The Japanese side expressed interest in further contributing to improving the investment climate in Bangladesh to facilitate enhanced Japanese investment, including through developing necessary legal and regulatory framework.
The Japanese Foreign Minister expressed satisfaction at the favorable investment facilities enjoyed by 176 Japanese enterprises currently operating in Bangladesh.
The two sides reaffirmed their mutual interest in enhancing cooperation in disaster management and combating climate change.
Bangladesh requested for increased Japanese financial support for the Climate Change Trust Fund and additional assistance from Japan’s Bilateral Carbon Offset Mechanism (BCOM).
The two Foreign Ministers agreed that both Bangladesh and Japan could work together for mutual benefit under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Fumio Kishida commended Bangladesh’s achievements in disaster management and said that Japan had much to learn from Bangladesh’s experiences.
He invited Bangladesh to participate in the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Sendai in March 2015.
The two Foreign Ministers also agreed to work in close cooperation to create an enabling environment for women and girls to realize their fullest potentials in all spheres.
Mahmood Ali thanked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for showcasing Bangladesh’s success in women’s empowerment during his address at the 68th Session of UN General Assembly.
The Japanese Foreign Minister, terming Bangladesh as a leading country in Women Empowerment, particularly invited Bangladesh’s participation at the highest possible level at an international symposium on women’s issues to be organized in Tokyo in September this year.
The two sides also appreciated each other’s strategic role in promoting regional peace, security and stability.
The Japanese Foreign Minister praised Bangladesh’s lead contributions to UN Peacekeeping Operations and specially recalled the supreme sacrifice of 113 valiant peacekeepers from Bangladesh.
He affirmed to cooperate in human resource development for peacekeeping, including through regular exchange of defence officials.
Fumio Kishida positively responded to the idea of setting up a Peace-building Centre in Bangladesh and offered to initiate bilateral consultations at the working level in this regard. The Japanese Foreign Minister also appreciated Bangladesh’s perspectives on UN Security Council Reform.
He reiterated the invitation extended to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe to visit Japan at a mutually convenient time. In return, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister mentioned that the people of Bangladesh eagerly looked forward to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Bangladesh, which the Japanese Foreign Minister agreed to convey and facilitate.
At the outset of the talks, the Japanese Foreign Minister recalled the ‘excitement’ generated by the historic visit of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Japan in October 1973.
Kishida added that he was carrying a memento from Bangabandhu’s visit as a gift for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
EPA with Japan to be ‘growing synergies’