Hasina-Bolkiah meet: Two countries agree on energy collaboration
Bangladesh and Brunei have agreed to go for long-term collaboration in the energy sector, particularly in the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other petroleum products to Bangladesh.
The agreement came during the delegation-level meeting led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday.
The development comes at a time when Bangladesh is looking for alternative sources of energy amid the spike in fuel prices and supply chain disruptions in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.
"Prime Minister Hasina sought Brunei's support in the energy sector in the development journey of Bangladesh. The Sultan happily agreed," an official present at the meeting told this correspondent.
An MoU signed earlier on the supply of LNG and other petroleum products has also been renewed.
"The MoU, which was inactive, can now be activated for importing energy from Brunei," the official said.
The two countries also agreed to boost maritime connectivity, which can help lower the transport cost of energy and increase trade, he said.
The Brunei sultan leading a 40-strong delegation of his family members, senior ministers and officials arrived in Dhaka on Saturday.
This is the first-ever state visit by the sultan at the invitation of President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Earlier in 2019, Hasina visited Brunei.
Red carpet was rolled out and a 21-gun salute was given in honour of Hassanal Bolkiah upon his arrival on Saturday.
He attended a banquet hosted by President Abdul Hamid at the Bangabhaban, and a cultural event the same day. He also held a meeting with President Hamid there.
Besides, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen called on the Sultan at hotel InterContinental Dhaka.
The sultan also visited the National Martyrs Memorial in Savar and Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi and paid respect to the memories of Bangabandhu and the martyrs of 1971.
He is scheduled to leave today.
At the delegation-level meeting yesterday, the two countries renewed one MoU on energy supply, signed an air service agreement and two other MoUs on employment of Bangladeshi workers and recognition of certificates for the seafarers.
"I am very happy that we could sign the MoU on labour recruitment. We have major stake in it," Nahida Rahman Shumona, Bangladesh high commissioner to Brunei, told The Daily Star.
She said now both countries can meet on a regular basis and address any problems related to recruitment, treatment and welfare of the workers.
Officials concerned said some 20,000 Bangladeshis work in Brunei. Setting a minimum wage, insurance and reducing recruitment costs are some of the issues that need to be ensured for the workers' welfare.
According to a joint statement, the two countries agreed to discuss the possibility of recruiting more workers in Brunei from Bangladesh, including skilled and professional manpower, and managing the recruitment process in a transparent, orderly and ethical manner.
Noting the MoUs on agriculture, livestock and fisheries cooperation signed in 2019, they agreed to explore potential projects under them.
"Brunei wants Bangladesh to provide its expertise in these sectors," an official said.
The Bangladesh prime minister and Brunei sultan acknowledged with satisfaction that the relationship has reached a new height with the visit, while agreeing to work closely together as development partners given the strong commonalities existing in faith, tradition and culture, and shared vision of prosperity, peace and stability.
Both sides stressed the need for an MoU on health sector cooperation for the recruitment and training of healthcare professionals, and specialised and pharmaceutical services.
The two sides agreed to further deepen mutual cooperation in the regional and international forums, including the UN, OIC, the Commonwealth and ASEAN Regional Forum.
Brunei appreciated Bangladesh's continued interest to strengthen its relations with ASEAN and assured its support for Bangladesh's bid to become a Sectoral Dialogue Partner of ASEAN.
The two leaders agreed to broaden the scope of existing defence and security cooperation, disaster response and humanitarian operations.
Bangladesh expressed gratitude to Brunei for its political support for the much-awaited and expeditious repatriation of over a million Rohingyas, displaced from the Rakhine State of Myanmar and sheltered in Bangladesh.
They agreed to strengthen the existing bilateral mechanisms, including regular meetings at the level of foreign minister.
Both sides identified trade and investment as areas of vital bilateral cooperation and expressed their keenness to work to increase the volume of two-way trade, which is currently far below the potential.
Bangladesh offered Brunei the advantage of investment in the Special Economic Zones of Bangladesh.
Brunei also invited Bangladesh to consider investing in its economic diversification activities like the food, agriculture and aquaculture industries.