Dhaka, Feb 06: Bangladesh and Italy have agreed to further strengthen economic partnership stressing the importance of an ever more intense cooperation between the European Union and Bangladesh in the areas of trade and development.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte acknowledged the importance of the “Everything But Arms” preferential tariff regime the EU has been allowing for Bangladeshi exports towards the European market, UNB reports.
Bangladesh has sought Italy’s support in preferential access of its commodities to EU market even after the country’s graduation out of the Least Developed Country (LDC) group status, according to a joint statement issued on Thursday on the outcome of the bilateral talks held between the two prime ministers on Wednesday.
Both prime ministers pointed out the importance of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Italy and Bangladesh that will take place in 2022.
They convened to celebrate the event through a series of cultural events in both capitals, under the aegis of the respective Embassies.
They also recalled the ‘Mujib Borsho’ (Mujib Year: March 17, 2020 – March 17, 2021) to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina invited Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to visit Bangladesh for participating at the celebration of Mujib Borsho.
Prime Minister Conte warmly thanked her for the invitation.
EU Support Sought for Rohingya Repatriation
Prime Minister Hasina thanked the European Union, including Italy, for their support to the cause of the Rohingyas.
She requested continued support of the EU in order to ensure safe, dignified and sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas.
Both sides welcomed the International Court of Justice’s decision of January 23, 2020. Prime Minister Hasina called for international community’s support in implementing the decision of International Court of Justice.
The two Prime Ministers commended the very positive degree of cooperation existing between Italy and Bangladesh within the UN system, where both countries remain traditionally supportive of each other’s candidatures.
Prime Minister Conte expressed Italy’s appreciation for the Bangladeshi management of the Rohingya crisis.
He underlined the political and financial support Italy has been delivering through UN agencies to help Bangladesh cope with the humanitarian emergency and encouraged Prime Minister Hasina to continue with the policy of hospitality Bangladesh has followed so far.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid an official bilateral visit to Italy on 4-6 February at the invitation of her Italian counterpart. The bilateral talks between the two Prime Ministers reflected the positive trend of bilateral relations.
Positive Trade Trend
The two leaders acknowledged the positive development of bilateral trade exchanges.
The figures of the last few years show an overall increase of exchanges, firmly over 2 billion Euros.
Prime Minister Conte recognised the socio-economic progress Bangladesh has made, which aims at bringing the country out of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group in 2024.
Both sides praised the presence of Italian companies in Bangladesh, including in the textile sector.
The two leaders expressed their confidence in further consolidating the Italian-Bangladeshi economic partnership, including in the sectors of RMG, pharmaceutical products, light engineering, leather, high tech and both conventional and renewable energy.
The sector of blue economy was also indicated as an area of mutual interest, also in connection with Italy’s outreach activities towards the Indian Ocean Rim Association – IORA.
Both leaders recalled the presence of a large Bangladeshi community in Italy, more than 140,000 people, mostly well integrated in the Italian social fabric.
A substantial part of the talks was focused on the ways and means to further consolidate bilateral cooperation on the issue of migration.
The two prime ministers talked about possible legal pathways for regular migration and fighting against the irregular one.
Prime Minister Hasina and Prime Minister Conte encouraged the pursuit of the ongoing negotiations concerning several possible bilateral agreements (on cultural exchange programmes, political consultations, diplomatic training and defence cooperation).
Both side agreed to intensify consultations.