Government Policy

Bangladesh invites US to tap potentials of offshore blocks

Bangladesh has invited the United States to explore opportunities in offshore blocks as Bangladesh identified 20 blocks through maritime boundary settlement.


The US side assured Bangladesh of encouraging their companies to invest in Bangladesh.


State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, while briefing reporters after bilateral meeting with visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun, said they discussed it apart from other issues.


Responding to a question, the State Minister said this is an open invitation but not for any specific US company.


He said the two sides discussed ways to ensure faster economic recovery for Bangladesh in the post Covid-19 scenario and the US side encouraged for larger discussion on Free Trade Agreement considering Bangladesh’s growing economy.


Bangladesh also sought preferential trade support for its products from the US to accelerate the economic recovery during the post-Covid era.


The Bangladesh side raised the Rohingya repatriation issue and laid emphasis on quick repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State.


The US reiterated its commitment to work to resolve the Rohingya crisis.


They intend to engage themselves in this effort after the national election of Myanmar in November, said the State Minister.


The US government has assured Bangladesh of taking steps so that US vaccines can be made available after successful production. The visa issue also came up for discussions.


On Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), he said Bangladesh supports an inclusive, peaceful and participatory region.


The US side expressed satisfaction that an American company has started supplying LNG to Bangladesh.


The US Deputy Secretary of State arrived here on Wednesday to discuss Bangladesh-US cooperation on Covid-19 response, recovery efforts and sustainable economic development.


Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen received the US Deputy Secretary of State upon his arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport from New Delhi, India after wrapping up his three-day visit there.


US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller was also present, an official said.


Biegun will meet Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday morning and discuss issues of mutual interest and issues related to Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), a senior official told UNB.


He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Gonobhaban at 12pm on Thursday.


During discussions with the Bangladesh side, Biegun will reaffirm the Bangladesh-US partnership.


The Deputy Secretary’s engagements in Bangladesh will focus on “advancing the common vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region” with shared prosperity for all, according to the Office of the Spokesperson at the US Department of State.


Bangladesh’s Priority


Bangladesh will raise the Rohingya issue on Thursday again and seek stronger global support, especially from the United States, for the quick repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar.


“It’s a global responsibility. Rohingyas must go back to Myanmar, ” said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.


He said Rohingya is not a lone responsibility of Bangladesh but a global responsibility and Bangladesh will raise it.


Dr Momen said Bangladesh is not interested in humanitarian assistance. “It’s one part but not the main part. Rohingyas must go back to Myanmar. That’s the main part for us.”


Repatriation attempts were failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ “lack of trust” on the Myanmar government.


Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.


On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.


IPS & Bangladesh


On Monday, Dr Momen said the US side will talk about Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) and Bangladesh does not have any problem.


Bangladesh will also seek investment in infrastructure development and visa issues during the visit, he said.


Bangladeshi students are not getting the US visas whereas India is giving. “This is discriminatory,” Dr Momen said.


“We’ll tell them that they should come forward with investment in infrastructure development if they want the effectiveness of the initiative,” said the Foreign Minister adding that only talks will not work.


If they really want to help Bangladesh, Dr Momen said, they can help Bangladesh RMG sector by withdrawing tariffs for three years.


On defence aspects of the IPS, the Foreign Minister said they want to sell equipment but Bangladesh will be very reluctant about that end as Bangladesh is a friendly country.


Deputy Secretary Biegun will leave Bangladesh on October 16.


Source: United News of Bangladesh