Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes has recently made a rapid tour of Latin America and saw Bangladesh's immense business potential in countries like Brazil to Argentina and Panama to Mexico.
Since Bangladesh has no residence mission in any of the Latin American countries at present, one of the objectives of the mission was to establish direct contacts with those countries to diversify the country's markets beyond North America and Europe.
Earlier, Bangladesh had missions in both Brazil and Argentina, but those were wrapped up at later stage. Now, the government has initiated process to set up a full-fledged mission in Brazil, an emerging economy in Latin America.
“We've deep engagements with the countries of Latin America in multilateral forums, and now we want to transform those engagements into bilateral cooperation in expanding trade and investment,” Quayes said.
The team -- comprising officials from the ministries of commerce, overseas employment, agriculture and foreign affairs -- visited Peru, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica and Colombia from July 28 to August 10.
Referring to the prospects of Bangladeshi products, the foreign secretary said Bangladeshi apparels, jute products, pharmaceuticals and handicrafts have potentials in those countries.
Volume of trade between Bangladesh and the Latin American countries is insignificant, may be in thousands of dollars.
During the interactions with officials and businessmen there, the secretary said they have discussed framework agreements, technical cooperation, particularly in rice and maize production.
In Chile the delegation discussed visa waiver agreement for Bangladeshi diplomats and government officials. The negotiations with Brazil regarding the visa waver have been completed.
Quayes said Mexico, Colombia and Argentina have also expressed their willingness to sign visa waiver agreement. Gradually, he said, this programme would be expanded for Bangladeshi businessmen.
He also said Argentina, Mexico and Colombo expressed their interests in conducting Spanish language course for Bangladesh officials.
The secretary also sees prospects of sending Bangladesh engineers and construction workers to Panama as the Panama government is expanding the canal to facilitate the sailing of big merchandise ships through it.
The fact-finding mission to Latin America was the second after West Africa where the foreign secretary had led such a mission to Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Ivory Coast in August-September last year.