Bangladesh - Pakistan bilateral ties gets a boost
It has been well acknowledged by all quarters that currently Bangladesh is well-positioned in various economic indexes. As the country's international trade and commerce keeps growing, now Pakistan has taken a step forward to give a boost to our bilateral ties. During a recent meeting with the president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Pakistan High Commissioner, Imran Ahmed Siddiqui expressed his eagerness for enhancing the bilateral ties between the two nations.
According to the DCCI, trade between Bangladesh and Pakistan reached $543.90 million in fiscal 2019-20. Of the total amount, Bangladesh's export to Pakistan stood at $50.54 million and imports were $493.36 million.
The Pakistan envoy further pointed out that there was once a Joint Economic Commission (JEC) between Bangladesh and Pakistan, but its last meeting was held in 2005. Therefore, reinstating the JEC is indeed necessary to revive to ensure mutual trade benefits for the two countries. The gesture of growing mutual interest is indeed praiseworthy.
Getting out of the age-old mistrust and agonizing past, we believe it is time to develop a trustful diplomatic relation in tuned with our foreign policy dogma - Friendship towards all, malice towards none.
In recent times there seems to be a realisation within Pakistani society and media that Bangladesh is doing better on socio-economic fronts, admitted by no other than the country's premier Imran Khan himself. Last week, Pakistan's High Commissioner handed over a signed copy of the Tripartite Agreement of 1974 to the state minister of foreign affairs - in which all the outstanding issues between the two countries were addressed. The statement read that the agreement will serve as a foundation for further strengthening of the existing fraternal relations between the two states. On that occasion, Pakistan envoy gave an assurance that Pakistan may even sign a preferential trade agreement with Bangladesh to increase trade volumes.
Currently, there is no maritime connectivity between Chattogram port and Pakistan's port in Karachi. Trade is being held through Singapore and other neighbouring ports. As a result, trade volumes remains limited and not picking up at a significant level. Therefore, Pakistan is enthusiastic making a strong connectivity on trade in particular, so that the two countries' private sectors can explore and benefit from the cooperation in agriculture and blue economy.
However, cultural engagements can be a catalyst for strengthening people-to-people contact too. If a growing number of Pakistan business houses can interact with their Bangladeshi counterparts, more trade opportunities can be explored. In this regard we think Pakistan's fashion industry could also be a good sector for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to explore.
On that note, we believe, an active intervention of SAARC is needed to boost regional trade and investment. The pandemic has once again taught how regional cooperation is important. Prevailing enmity between India and Pakistan is hampering the objectives of SAARC from being realised - we urge both India and Pakistan to come forward while removing the long-standing mistrust and hostilities.
There will always be mending walls between nations, but that should not stand as a barrier hampering regional cooperation, friendship and development.