Maldives eyes direct shipping link with Bangladesh
The Maldives is very keen to introduce direct shipping link between Chittagong and Male to enhance trade relations between the two countries.
Abdulla Shahid, state minister and chairman of the Hithadhoo Port of the Maldives, expressed this willingness at a meeting with the leaders of the Federation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at the chamber's auditorium in the city yesterday.
AK Azad, FBCCI president, and Ahmed Sareer, the Maldives high commissioner in Dhaka, also spoke.
“We can start direct shipping connectivity between Chitta-gong Port and Hithadhoo Port within weeks,” said Shahid.
He said the Maldives import most of their food items, energy and construction materials from India and Thailand to fulfil their national demand, and Bangladesh has the potential to export these items to Maldives.
Due to its dependence in imports, the Maldives wants to import food items, energy and construction materials from Bangladesh, Shahid added.
He urged the Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to invest in tourism, energy and infrastructure development sectors of his country.
About air linkage, the minister said they plan to introduce direct air link between Bangladesh and the Maldives under public or private initiatives.
At present, 6,000 Bangladeshi workers are contributing to the economy of the Maldives, said Ahmed Sareer.
“We are looking forward to hire more manpower from Bangladesh to develop infrastructure and hospital sectors of our country.”
The Maldives will sign a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh to strengthen bilateral relationship between the two counties, he said adding that currently Bangladesh is hosting many medical and engineering students of the country.
He said, as both Bangladesh and the Maldives are low-lying countries, joint efforts are needed to cope with the adverse effects of climate change. Sareer put emphasis on sharing knowledge to promote tourism sectors of the two countries.
FBCCI president said Bangladesh appreciates the government of the Maldives for allowing duty free access of all Bangladeshi export products including medicine by the end of current year.
Azad expressed his gratitude to the Maldives for hiring many people from Bangladesh and for the registration of 12,000 out of 17,000 Bangladeshi workers.
Both sides also have agreed to extend cooperation in education, tourism and agriculture sectors. Azad hoped these initiatives will further strengthen the two countries' economic ties.
“In July-May (2010-2011), Bangladesh export to the country was worth $0.72 million and import $1.46 million, which are quite insignificant. We have to enhance our bilateral trade.”