Dhaka will soon open three new fully-fledged diplomatic missions in Copenhagen, Vienna and Warsaw to further expand its export market within European economies.
Sources said the foreign ministry has completed all the formalities to open the new embassies in Denmark, Austria and Poland after getting the go-ahead from the finance and establishment ministries and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
The government has also decided to set up new embassies in Afghanistan, Sudan and Sierra Leone and upgrade the Agartala visa office in the Indian state of Tripura to a Deputy High Commission soon.
Last year, the government opened five new embassies in Mexico, Brazil, Lebanon, Mauritius and Portugal, and a Deputy High Commission in Mumbai, India.
“The opening of new missions is part of Commission in Mumbai, India.
“The opening of new missions is part of the Awami League government's plan to prioritise economic diplomacy in its foreign policy,” said a senior foreign ministry official.
Justifying the government's decisions, he said it became necessary for Bangladesh to open more embassies to serve the growing number of expatriate Bangladeshis, raise export and trade and establish political link with countries around the globe.
According to an official estimate, about 7 million Bangladeshis now live abroad and remit around $15 billion a year.
Officials said there is a common perception that government spends huge amount of money to run the foreign missions. But some missions, including those in the Middle Eastern countries, Malaysia, the USA, the UK, Italy and Singapore, earn a good revenue and send foreign currencies to Bangladesh by providing consular services to people.
At present, Bangladesh has 69 embassies/ high commissions, consulates, deputy high commissions, assistant high commissions and visa offices in 52 countries.
The government has decided to make changes in its foreign missions in Washington, New Delhi, London and Canberra. It also transferred several ambassadors and made fresh appointments at some important embassies.
High Commissioner in New Delhi Ahmad Tariq Karim, Ambassador to Washington Akramul Qader, High Commissioner in Australia Lt Gen (retd) Masud Uddin Chowdhury and High Commissioner in London Mijarul Quayes will be replaced.
Ahmad Tariq Karim and Akramul Qader were appointed in August and November, 2009 on contractual basis.
Sources in the foreign ministry said the government will appoint former foreign secretary (1999-2001) Syed Muazzem Ali as the next High Commissioner in New Delhi, while Ambassador-at-Large Muhammad Ziauddin as Ambassador in Washington DC.
Akramul Qader has opted for not to extend his service contract due to his health. A source in the PMO said Ahmad Tariq Karim might be accommodated in a higher position in Dhaka.
Bangladesh High Commissioner in London Mijarul Quayes has been transferred to newly opened embassy in Brazil, which the foreign ministry officials consider as a demotion due to his non-performance.
One of the reasons for downgrading Quayes is his failure to convince the British government to send a congratulatory letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina upon her re-election in the January 5 national polls, a highly placed source in the government told this newspaper.
Former foreign secretary Quayes has been facing audit objections for drawing excessive amounts of money during his transfer from Maldives to Russia and purchase of paintings worth about Tk 8 crore while serving as foreign secretary.
He bought the paintings for decoration of the foreign ministry and foreign missions abroad. The items have been left in a store at the ministry for the last few years.
Bangladesh Ambassador and Permanent Representative in Geneva Md Abdul Hannan will replace Quayes. Bangladesh envoy in Brazil M Shameem Ahsan has been appointed as Ambassador and Permanent Representative in Geneva.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand Kazi Imtiaz Hossain is going to replace Masud Uddin Chowdhury in Australia. Bangladesh envoy in Myanmar Maj Gen Anup Kumar Chakma is also expected to be replaced as he has already completed his three-year tenure.
Foreign Ministry Director General (admin) Md Allama Siddiki has been appointed as High Commissioner in Pretoria, South Africa while Director General (UN) Saida Muna Tasneem is likely to be made ambassador in Thailand.