Ambassador Supradip Chakma talked to Viet Nam News on the occasion of Bangladeshi National Day today.
We welcome you as the new Bangladeshi Ambassador to Viet Nam. Can you tell our readers about the achievements in bilateral ties between Viet Nam and Bangladesh in recent years?
Ambassador Supradip Chakma
Bangladesh maintains excellent bilateral relations with Viet Nam based on long traditional and historical ties. Soon after its independence in 1971, Bangladesh followed with keen interest and supported Viet Nam's struggle. There was a strong nation-wide movement of the Bangladeshi people in support of Viet Nam's fight for liberation. Bangladesh was the first country in South Asia and the second in Asia to recognise and establish diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level with the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Viet Nam. On February 11, 1973, Viet Nam and Bangladesh officially established diplomatic relations.
Bangladesh attaches great importance to consolidating and developing its multifaceted bilateral relations with Viet Nam. However, relations should be strengthened based on the strong historical commonality of the past. It should be mentioned that since the assumption of the present democratic Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a look east policy encompassing the ASEAN nations has been emphasised. The two countries have maintained effective co-ordination in regional and international fora and exchanged views on important bilateral or international issues of mutual interest.
Through the exchange of high level visits, the two countries' relations have become even stronger and closer. It's true that the existing relations would be further strengthened if the expected top-level visit from Viet Nam could be realised or the same could be arranged from Bangladesh in future. Framework co-operation agreements such as the JEC, although overdue, are awaiting a date to be signed by Viet Nam. Signing of a cultural co-operation agreement is in the final stage and hopefully the signing of this co-operation agreement will further enhance our relations. A significant number of agreements/MOUs between the two countries have also been concluded.
In the meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, you said that Bangladesh wanted to boost co-operation with Viet Nam in agriculture and aqua-culture. Are there any relevant co-operation activities in these fields in the coming time?
Bangladesh National Monument for Martyrs of 1971. — Photo Courtesy of the Embassy
Agriculture plays a vital role in Bangladesh's economy. About 60 per cent of the population are directly or indirectly involved in it. Even in our export basket, its contribution is very significant. So agriculture is important as it is in Viet Nam. Bangladesh is definitely interested in sharing Vietnamese experiences to further increase its production. Official and private teams are regularly visiting from Bangladesh to share Vietnamese experiences. A team from the Ministry of Water Resources recently visited Viet Nam to study preparatory water management – a basic element of the agricultural sector.
You are aware that Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable countries physically and economically due to climate change? As an agricultural country, climate change has adversely affected our economy, as mighty nature does in Viet Nam. Erratic floods, cyclones or droughts are interrupting our agricultural growth and ultimately economic development. As climate change seriously affects both our agriculture and fisheries sectors the two countries should co-operate and exchange experiences.
Bangladesh has more than two million workers abroad. Can Bangladesh share with Viet Nam the experience in training workers for labour export since Viet Nam also has an abundant number of human resources?
You rightly mentioned that Bangladesh is a human resources rich country. It provides a major source of foreign exchange earnings. The basic character of a Bangladeshi is flexible, hard working and easily trainable. Bangladesh, being a British colony in past, meant that we can communicate in English. This is an added advantage for Bangladeshi workers abroad. The Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training is continuously working to increase skilled manpower. With the advantage of speaking English, it is concentrating on developing the ICT sector to build a digital Bangladesh. In this regard, we should mention that private and public universities run English language programmes for local and foreigners where a number of Chinese participate. So, this is one of the avenues which Viet Nam is now concentrating and Bangladesh may easily co-operate.
What fields does the Bangladesh Government encourage Vietnamese investors to invest in? What favourable conditions are foreign investors offered when doing business in your country?
The Vietnamese business community should be aware that despite all odds, Bangladesh is making great strides in socio-economic development. It has made remarkable progress in socio-cultural, political and educational development, the empowerment of women and economic emancipation of the masses. Having a huge population, the economy of Bangladesh, continues to grow at about six percent with upward export growth and an increased inflow of remittances even last year, and for over the last decade.
It is undeniable that despite the excellent political relationship between the two countries, trade has not matched the expectations of both sides. The amount of two- way trade is very minimal compared to our country's populations. Both countries have much to offer each other and can be complimentary to each other. Bangladesh offers lucrative incentives and facilities for expanding trade and investment in mutually beneficial areas, especially in pharmaceuticals, ready made garment and textile, leather, ceramics, frozen food, ship building, light engineering, ICT, and agro-based industries. Bangladesh exports to Viet Nam jute and jute goods, leather, urea fertilizer and pharmaceutical items and imports agro-machineries, agri-products and construction materials from Viet Nam. To accelerate and expand business relations, frequent exchange of both public and private sectors, especially members of the two apex bodies of the Chamber of Trade, Commerce and Industries is imperative to bolster trade and investment.
|Bangladesh at a glance
Population: approximately150 million
National flag: a red circle on a green background.
Bangladesh is determined to develop from traditional low cost manufacturing to the value chain, developing knowledge-based high technology and modern industries. Rapid industrial growth in recent years has been seen through our EPZ, FTZ and other business locations, with the economy changing through it's easily accessible sea, air and land ports which connect business hubs regionally and internationally. Bangladesh offers lucrative incentives and facilities as fiscal, non-fiscal and structural development including tax holidays, concessionary taxes, duty free imports of machinery and raw materials, avoidance of double taxation and 100 per cent foreign equity allowed, unrestricted exit policy, full repatriation of capital, etc.
I welcome the business community of Viet Nam to visit Bangladesh to see the magnanimity of economic activities in Bangladesh. It is a huge consumer market with 150 million population for many Vietnamese investment and products. Many regional investors and exporters see Bangladesh as suitable place for investment and export. Many ASEAN and regional countries have availed the incentive offered by Bangladesh and many are on the queue.
Do you have any plan to further boost cultural exchanges between the people of the two nations ?
Bangladesh and Viet Nam may create more favourable environment for the development of long-term co-operation in the field of culture through the cultural exchange programmes in accordance with the Cultural Agreement signed between the two countries.
It is worth mentioning that under the cultural exchange programmes, the cultural troupes and delegations visited each other previously. Bangladesh has invited the Vietnamese Government to participate in the 14th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh 2010 to be held in October – November 2010. — VNS