Bangladesh plans to boost connectivity with Thailand | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 26, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:43 AM, June 26, 2015

Bangladesh plans to boost connectivity with Thailand

Bangladesh and Thailand plan to establish road, rail and waterways connectivity to link Asean's east-west and north-south corridors through Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM).

Bangladesh and Thailand have also agreed to sign a deal on connectivity at the seventh joint commission meeting of their foreign ministers.

The issue of connectivity was discussed at the first-ever foreign office consultation between the two countries in the capital yesterday.

The meeting also shed light on issues related to trade and investment, duty- and quota-free market access of Bangladeshi products to Thailand, recruitment of Bangladeshi manpower and economic cooperation.

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque led the Bangladesh team in the meeting, while Thai Foreign Secretary Norachit Sinhaseni led his country's nine-member delegation.

The Thai team said they will welcome the proposals to establish the connectivity, for which both the sides agreed to create a joint working group.

Bangladesh further proposed establishing connectivity between Chittagong port and Ranong port of Thailand and air-connectivity between Bangkok and Cox's Bazar to promote bilateral trade, investment and tourism.

Bangladesh also expressed its interest to be connected with the Mekong-Ganges Cooperation forum to enhance its connectivity with Thailand and other countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“Naturally the BCIM came up in the discussion, but we thought it's time that we should also look for how to go beyond BCIM to get linked with other similar initiatives that are moving fast,” Haque said.

East-west and north-south corridors are hubs of Asean connectivity, Sinhaseni said.

The east-west corridor starts from a deep seaport in Vietnam, which passes through Laos and connects with Thailand linking China, he said.

The second corridor runs through Singapore to Malaysia and is stretched up to Kunming in China.

It will be possible to connect both the corridors from Kunming, if the BCIM connectivity is established, the Thai secretary said.

Thailand has granted duty- and quota-free market access for 6,998 Bangladeshi products while 15 more are under consideration as the products are reviewed in every two years, he said.

Special tourism zones could be offered to Thailand, Haque said.

The two countries agreed that two separate deals will be finalised and implemented to strengthen cooperation in tourism and culture.

The Thai secretary said the two countries also decided to exempt visa for diplomatic passport holders while exemption for official passport holders will be discussed later.

Bangladesh has made a request for Thai investment in energy, food processing, tourism and health sectors, he said.

Bangladesh will host the first meetings of the separate joint working groups on investment and health services by 2015, Haque said.

A deal will also be signed between Bangladesh Accreditation Board and Thai Industrial Standard Institute to facilitate trade, he said.

Sinhaseni said they plan to recruit Bangladeshis for construction and fisheries sectors; but their priority is now to complete legalisation of 1.6 million migrants, who came mostly from the neighbouring countries.

The two sides also agreed to form a joint working group on employment to consider finalisation of a deal on employment of Bangladeshi workers in Thailand.

Additional Foreign Secretary Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh Ambassador in Thailand Saida Muna Tasneem, Director General at the foreign ministry Ashud Ahmed also attended the meeting. 

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