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Bangladesh, Brunei agree on energy cooperation

Bangladesh and Brunei Darussalam on Sunday agreed to explore mechanisms for long-term collaboration in the energy sector, particularly in the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and other petroleum products to Bangladesh.

Visiting Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed for a long-term collaboration in the energy sector, said a joint statement issued after the official talks between the two leaders at the Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka, reports UNB.

“In view of Bangladesh’s growing demand for energy and Brunei Darussalam’s standing as a stable and key regional exporter of energy, both leaders agreed to explore mechanisms for long-term collaboration in the energy sector, particularly in the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and other petroleum products to Bangladesh,” said the statement.

Following the official talks, the two countries also signed four bilateral instruments, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Field of Cooperation in the Supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and other Petroleum Products.

Three other instruments are ‘Air Services Agreement,’ ‘MoU on the Employment and Recruitment of Bangladeshi Workers,’ and ‘MoU on the Recognition of Certificate Issued under the Provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 as amended.’

In the talks, both sides identified trade and investment as areas of vital bilateral cooperation and expressed their optimism to work to increase the volume of two-way trade, which is currently far below the potential.

The two countries also welcomed discussions to explore the possibility of a mechanism between the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh and the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Brunei Darussalam to widen cooperation in trade, commerce and investment, as well as to seek support for enhanced business-to-business relations and cooperation.

Both leaders also agreed to deepen collaboration in the field of Halal trade.

Bangladesh offered Brunei Darussalam the advantages of the opportunities for investment in the Special Economic Zones of Bangladesh. Brunei Darussalam took note of the offer and looked forward to discussing potential areas of investment cooperation for the mutual benefit of both countries, according to the joint statement.

Brunei Darussalam also invited Bangladesh to consider investing in its economic diversification activities, such as in the food, agriculture and aquaculture industries.

In the official talks held in a warm and cordial atmosphere, the two leaders reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

The two leaders acknowledged with satisfaction that the relationship has reached a new height with the visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister to Brunei Darussalam in April 2019 and the Brunei Sultan’s visit to Bangladesh now.

Both sides agreed to work closely together as development partners in view of the strong commonalities existing in faith, tradition and culture, and shared vision of prosperity, peace and stability.

The Brunei Sultan appreciated the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the development journey of Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina also congratulated Haji Hassanal Bolkiah on his extraordinary leadership in preserving peace, stability and prosperity of Brunei Darussalam and the region.

Both the leaders underscored the need to tap the available synergies and stressed the importance of increased interaction and engagements at various levels between the government agencies, as well as of enhancing people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

The two leaders agreed to strengthen the existing bilateral mechanisms between the two countries, including regular meetings at the level of Foreign Minister.

Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation to counter the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bangladesh PM conveyed gratitude to the visiting Sultan for the support extended to Bangladesh expatriates living and working in Brunei Darussalam during the difficult period of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Brunei Darussalam acknowledged the contribution of the Bangladeshi expatriates in its continued development process.

Brunei Darussalam and Bangladesh agreed to discuss the possibility of recruiting more workers, including skilled workforce and professionals from Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam in the relevant sectors, where necessary. Both sides agreed to govern the recruitment process in a transparent, orderly and ethical manner.

Recalling the respective MoUs on Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cooperation signed in 2019, both sides acknowledged the ongoing discussion between the relevant authorities in both countries to explore potential projects under these MoUs. Both sides looked forward to the convening of the Joint Agriculture Working Committee (JAWC) to be held in November this year in Brunei Darussalam to progress this further.

Both sides recognised the need for quality education for human resource development.

Bangladesh appreciated Brunei Darussalam’s goodwill by continuing to offer scholarships to Bangladeshi students for higher education. Both sides agreed to further deepen and widen the scope of collaboration in the area of higher education for mutual benefit.

In the context of Bangladesh’s growing capacity in the healthcare sector, as well as Brunei Darussalam’s capacity for modern and advanced medical infrastructures, both sides noted the importance of signing an MoU on health sector cooperation for the recruitment and training of healthcare professionals, specialised services and pharmaceutical services, as well as other potential areas of cooperation that may be of mutual benefit to both countries.

The two leaders also agreed to work in new and emerging areas including ICT, green technology and blue economy for mutual benefit.

Emphasising the value of peace, security and stability for socio-economic development, the two leaders agreed to broaden the scope of existing defence and security cooperation, disaster response and humanitarian operations.

Both sides stressed the need for air and maritime connectivity to enhance trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people contacts and agreed to encourage the private sector operators to become involved for better connectivity between the two countries.

The two sides agreed to further deepen mutual cooperation in the regional and international fora, including the UN, OIC, the Commonwealth and ARF on issues of mutual interest and common position.

Brunei Darussalam 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.

Bangladesh expressed gratitude to Brunei Darussalam for its political support for the expeditious repatriation of over a million displaced persons from the Rakhine State, temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh, in a safe, secure, sustainable and dignified manner.

The Brunei Sultan appreciated the generosity and hospitality of Bangladesh rendered to the displaced persons and assured that his government would continue to support Bangladesh in seeking a durable solution, with a view to ensuring the overall peace and security of the region.

Both sides reiterated that the visit of the Brunei Sultan would usher in a new chapter in the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Brunei Darussalam. They expressed optimism for a stronger and deeper partnership for mutual benefit of the two brotherly countries.

The two leaders welcomed and witnessed the signing of the bilateral instruments and expressed their expectations for the early implementation of the provisions as envisaged in those instruments.

Earlier, on his arrival at the PMO, the sultan was received by the Bangladesh prime minister at the Tiger Gate of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Before the formal talks, the two leaders also had a tête-à-tête for some time. Then the 50-minute official talks started where the two leaders were leading their respective sides.

Brunei Minister of Finance and Economy Dr Amin Abdullah signed three instruments while its Home Affairs Minister Awang Haji Ahmaddin inked the rest one on behalf of their government.

Bangladesh’s Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali and State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury signed each instrument.

On Saturday afternoon, the Brunei Sultan arrived in Dhaka by a special flight on his first state visit to Bangladesh for two days. President Abdul Hamid warmly received the Sultan at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport amid 21-gun salute.

Some 15,000 Bangladeshis are now working in oil-rich Brunei.