President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has arrived in Kathmandu for four-day goodwill official visit to Nepal at the invitation of President Bidya Devi Bhandari. The high level visit that took place after a long gap is expected to boost the relations between the two friendly nations to newer level as both are exploring ways to expand their trade, hydropower, investment and people-to-people relations. The two nations have shared excellent bilateral relations ever since they opened diplomatic channel in April, 1972. Their bilateral relations have been defined by friendliness, goodwill, mutual understanding and cooperation. At the moment, both the nations are witnessing political stability and democratic order so it is the right moment to push economic cooperation to the optimal benefits of both nations.
Both nations have many similarities that create atmosphere conducive to enhance their ties in multiple areas. Geographically, Bangladesh is a close neighbour after India and China. Both are the least-developed nations striving to medium income developing status. Both nations share common viewpoints on bilateral, regional and international affairs. They work in close coordination in the forums such as SAARC, BIMSTEC, the United Nations, UNCTAD and WTO, and share similar views on various regional and international forums. This amply suggests that both nations can help and benefit from each other through the sharing of their social, economic and cultural experiences. In order to review and enhance the whole gamut of bilateral relations between the two countries, they inked a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a Foreign Office Consultations mechanism in 2012.
Nepal-Bangladesh Joint Economic Commission (JEC) was set up at the level of Finance Ministers in 1978. There has been high prospect of commercial relations, especially in the export sector. Nepal has been exporting yellow lentils, oil cakes, large cardamom, wheat, vegetable seeds, handicraft and pashminas to Bangladesh, and has been importing industrial raw materials, chemicals, fabrics and textile, jute products, electric and electronic items to Nepal, according to official data. In 1997, Nepal started using port facilities at Mongla with the opening of Kakarbhitta-Phulbari-Banglabandha transit route. Nepal was also permitted to use additional rail transit corridor via Rohonpur-Sighbad. Investors from both nations have been involved in joint venture in the areas of banking, finance and insurance.
It is the hydropower sector where Nepal and Bangladesh can well collaborate to the economic benefits of two nations. Nepal and Bangladesh inked MoU on energy cooperation in August last year. Bangladesh is witnessing rapid economic growth and in need of more energy to sustain it. It wants to buy around 9,000 megawatts electricity from here by 2040. It has proposed for a joint venture with Nepal government and its private sector and the two sides have agreed on a tripartite deal among Nepal, India and Bangladesh so as to export Nepal’s electricity to Bangladesh via Indian territory. The three nations are yet to decide the use of transmission line that is supplying electricity to Nepal from India. Given that Nepal has decided to generate 15,000 megawatt of electricity in 10 years, the energy collaboration between the two nations constitutes vital segment of bilateral relations. Bangladeshi President’s visit will give momentum to the bilateral ties at political, economic and diplomatic levels.