29th ARF: Bangladesh places 6 proposals to ensure resilient economic cooperation in region

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said Bangladesh is the link between two of the world's most vibrant economic regions - Southeast Asia and South Asia - and placed six-point proposals for ensuring resilient economic cooperation in the region.

The six proposals include strengthening cooperation, collaboration, and shared responsibility between and among countries; research, investment, and advanced technology sharing for trade promotion; rapid development of connectivity; common action to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change, marine resource exploration, development and creating an energy hub in this region.

Momen emphasized collective efforts by the ASEAN leaders to tackle challenges faced by the ASEAN region while speaking at the 29th meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) under the theme "ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together" in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Friday.

He said Bangladesh seeks to promote itself as a hub of road, rail, riverine, maritime, and air connectivity for landlocked South Asian countries and continental Southeast Asian countries.

Momen highlighted some key challenges including recurring waves of new variants of Covid -19, global turmoil due to conflict in Europe, climate change, economic recession, and food and commodity crises that can only be adequately and effectively addressed through mutual trust and cooperation underpinned by multilateral arrangements like ARF.

29th ARF: Bangladesh places 6 proposals to ensure resilient economic cooperation in region

While presenting an overview of Bangladesh's socio-economic development in the last decade and a half, he stated with Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's vision of a world free of economic inequalities, social injustice, exploitation, aggression, and threats of nuclear war, Bangladesh government is working relentlessly under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to transform Bangabandhu's vision into a reality.

Momen raised that in the fifth year of the Rohingya crisis, not a single Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals has been repatriated to Myanmar.

He sought more focus and active support from the ARF countries for a durable solution to this crisis, particularly the ASEAN leaders' support, and requested them to strengthen their ongoing efforts to help create an environment within Myanmar that will encourage the Rohingyas to return.

Momen also raised the issue of the high FDI Myanmar secured despite the genocide it committed and atrocities it did.

He also pointed out that after the 2017 Rohingya invasion, even EU countries’ trade and investment increased substantially.

In terms of foreign direct investment, the EU was the 5th largest foreign investor following other Asian countries.

He also recalled the history that during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, there was economic sanction on Myanmar and therefore, they repatriated thousands of their nationals in the 1970s and 1990s through dialogue and discussions.

29th ARF: Bangladesh places 6 proposals to ensure resilient economic cooperation in region

Momen requested the western leaders to impose strong economic sanction on Myanmar as unless economic sanction is imposed on Myanmar, Myanmar is not likely to listen to world leadership.

Meanwhile, he pointed out that delaying the repatriation process may pose a security threat to the entire region and beyond.

Bangladesh believes that maximizing the Bay of Bengal's potential and improving connectivity can revitalize the region, Momen said.

To this end, he highlighted Bangladesh’s massive investment in developing and upgrading infrastructure, including ports, land ports, airports, roads and rail networks.

The Foreign Minister expressed Bangladesh's aspiration to collaborate and cooperate with ASEAN by becoming a Sectoral Dialogue Partner. He sought support from all the ASEAN countries in this process.

Momen led the Bangladesh delegation to the 29th ARF meeting hosted by Cambodia, the current Chair of the ARF.

Foreign Ministers, Deputy Foreign Ministers and other delegates of the 27 ARF Member States participated in the meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia Prak Sokhonn.

The meeting ended with the signing of a joint statement titled "ASEAN Regional Forum Framework on Promoting Peace, Stability and Prosperity in the Region through Preventive Diplomacy" and "ASEAN Regional Forum Statement on Supporting the Preservation of Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone."

Source: United News of Bangladesh