US approach to Bangladesh to be shaped within broad Asia-Pacific policy: Ali Riaz


Dhaka, Nov 06: The United States’ approach to Bangladesh, if Joe Biden wins, will be shaped within the broad Asia-Pacific policy and it will be good for countries like Bangladesh if economic cooperation gets priority in the region slowing down militarization efforts, say analysts.

“In a potential Biden administration, it’s expected that its Asia-Pacific policy will be recalibrated as will be its overall foreign policy orientation,” Dr Ali Riaz told UNB, mentioning that the US’ approach to Bangladesh will be shaped within the broad Asia-Pacific policy.

Joe Biden says he has “no doubt” that once the vote count is complete, he will defeat President Donald Trump to win the White House.

Former Ambassador of Bangladesh to the US M Humayun Kabir said it seems Biden will give much emphasis on economic aspects in the Asia Pacific region though there is a growing militarization effort through Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).

Warships and aircraft from the four “Quad” nations — Japan, India, Australia and the US — kicked off the annual Malabar joint military exercise in the Bay of Bengal on November 3 with Australia rejoining the drills for the first time in 13 years, according to The Japan Times.

Ambassador Kabir said militarization efforts may slow down or can be removed if there is a scope of cooperation between China and the US with a visible improvement in their relations keeping usual competition unhurt.

“It’ll be positive for us as a matter of relief,” the foreign affairs analyst said.

Responding to a question, Dr Riaz, a distinguished professor at Illinois State University, said while the US policy will continue to contain China and try to halt its growing influence in the region, it will not be belligerent like the Trump administration.

“I expect a relationship of contest and cooperation will be developed. As such, both defence and economic cooperation with the allies in the region will be strengthened,” he said.

Whether it will be done under the IPS or a new framework will be developed is an open question, the analyst added.

Responding to another question, Prof Riaz said the Bangladesh-US relationship has flourished irrespective of whoever is in power in Washington and Dhaka.

Also Read- Biden pushes closer to victory in race for the White House

“The US-Bangladesh relationship has economic and security dimensions, and they’ll continue,” he said.

The analyst said cooperation on counterterrorism between the two countries has strengthened in recent years and it will continue for the benefit of both countries.

However, he said, it is expected that the Biden administration will focus on human rights and democracy issues globally which is likely to have bearing on Bangladesh.


Former Ambassador Kabir said they are living in a world of inter-dependency and they are no more in an era where one can say “I can do alone”.

“We’re connected with each other for a number of reasons, including global value chain,” he said.

Kabir posed a question whether the US can solve the problems alone that the world is facing today and said it is important to see whether America becomes alone in the name of ‘America first’ policy.

On November 4, the United States formally left the Paris Agreement, a global pact it helped forge five years ago to avert the threat of catastrophic climate change.

The move, long threatened by US President Donald Trump and triggered by his administration a year ago, “further isolates” Washington in the world but has no immediate impact on international efforts to curb global warming.

In July, the Trump administration formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), although the pullout will not take effect until next year, meaning it could be rescinded under a new administration or if circumstances change.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he would reverse the decision on his first day in office, if elected.

Former diplomat Kabir said the US played a leadership role in the UN, WHO, WTO, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and he believes that Biden will work to reengage with the world if he is elected.

At least, the analyst said, Biden will not try to create tension in the world. “I believe it. And it’ll bring some relief in the world.”

Kabir said taking all on board, Biden will try to build an inclusive international society as there can be two aspects of protecting national interest — taking inclusive approach or exclusive.

Biden’s Challenges

However, CNN Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza in a latest analysis said Biden’s promise of returning things to normal may not even be possible.

Biden will have to grapple with Trump stirring things up from the outside. But even inside Washington, significant hurdles exist to Biden’s hopes of making things normal.

Republicans are nearly certain to hold the Senate majority in 2021, a remarkable outcome given predictions from political prognosticators that Democrats were favored to ride an anti-Trump wave into the majority.

“That means that every part of Biden’s presidency — from his picks for Cabinet slots to his policy priorities — will need Republicans on board if they are going to come to pass. And it’s uniquely possible that (likely still) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) makes a strategic decision that cooperating with Biden on, well, anything, is not beneficial to his party’s chances of regaining the White House in 2024,” Cillizza wrote.

Biden laid out his foreign policy vision for America to restore dignified leadership at home and respected leadership on the world stage.

Arguing that their policies at home and abroad are deeply connected, Biden announced that he will advance the security, prosperity, and values of the United States by taking immediate steps to renew their own democracy and alliances, protect economic future, and once more place America at the head of the table, leading the world to address the most urgent global challenges.

Biden is confident that he will emerge victorious, but said, “This will not be my victory or our victory alone. It will be a victory for the American people, for our democracy, for America.”

Dhaka Comfortable with Both

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has made it clear that Bangladesh does not have any problem whoever wins the US election which witnessed a very tight contest.

“Whoever comes to power, we’ve no problem,” Dr Momen said, mentioning that the foreign policy does not depend on any individual.

The Foreign Minister said it is too early to say who will win the election. “This is technically a different type of election. They’ve designed the system pretty nicely, having dignity for each State.”

Dr Momen said Bangladesh’s economy is doing very well and Bangladesh is geopolitically in a very good situation. “We maintain neutrality. We don’t have enmity with any country. We expect good for all.”

The Foreign Minister said he thinks Bangladesh will work very well with the US on the trade and investment front. “We’ve good relations.

Dr Momen said Bangladesh wants to see stability everywhere. “We want solid stability.”

In this interconnected world, he said, it will be good for Bangladesh if stability prevails everywhere.

The Foreign Minister said many countries, including the Trump Administration, remained busy with their respective countries since the Covid-19 pandemic. “It seems this trend will continue for many days.”

The Foreign Minister recalled that President Donald Trump cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

At that time Trump fulfilled a campaign pledge by signing an executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The 12-nation trade deal was a linchpin of former President Barack Obama’s Asia policy.

The Foreign Minister said whoever comes to power after the US election, the US government works in line with their people’s and country’s interest.

Bangladesh is hopeful of continuity on discussion with the United States on strengthening economic ties as the election results are unlikely to have any impact on it.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said as far as Bangladesh-US relationship is concerned, the US’ relationship does not depend on individual or party.

Rather, Masud Momen said, such a relationship goes through an institutional framework.

He said the government will work on maintaining the stable relationship with the US keeping economic ties unhurt and there will be efforts to restore the facilities that remain suspended.

Former Ambassador Kabir said Bangladeshis in the US might get benefit if the immigration policy is changed under a possible Biden administration.

The analyst said Biden might take an initiative to regularize irregular migrants and introduce chain migrants extending benefits towards families of the migrants.

Days after Election Day in the United States, neither candidate had amassed the votes needed to win the White House.