Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the global leaders to stop war and restore mutual respect among the nations for ensuring peace and progress.
“Human connectivity is the lifeline for peace and progress. We must put an end to wars, conflicts, and the arms race,” she said.
The prime minister came up with the statement while addressing the opening plenary session of the “Global Gateway Forum” conference at the GGF Conference Hall at her Place of Residence in Brussels on Wednesday, reports Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
She also sought European Union (EU)’s continued trade preferences for Bangladesh’s smooth LDC graduation.
Describing the EU as a trusted trade, development, and humanitarian partner for Bangladesh, she said, “We seek the EU’s continued trade preferences for our smooth LDC graduation”.
The premier also urged EU countries to come up with larger investment in Bangladesh particularly in its special economic zones and high-tech parks being built across the country.
She said Bangladesh offers one of the most attractive investment environments in the South Asia.
“So, I invite EU investors to explore the facilities in our Special Economic Zones and Hi-Tech Parks,” she said.
She also said they have scope for working further on decent work and the circular economy.
The premier, as well, stressed the need for better preparation and restoring mutual respects to tackle future crises as the world has currently been witnessing the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and Israeli attack on Gaza.
“We need to prepare better for future crises. We must restore faith in mutual respect and understanding among nations,” she said.
The prime minister expressed her optimism that the Global Gateway will act as a great connector for lasting peace and sustainable development, wishing all success of the Global Gateway Forum 2023.
She also said Bangladesh is willing to join the EU in promoting green hydrogen.
“We can benefit from the EU’s expertise in the sustainable use of marine resources. We need investment in cold chain networks to preserve our agricultural outputs,” she said.
The premier said Bangladesh’s pharmaceuticals and medical equipment industries can support the EU’s efforts for diversifying production.
“We seek partners for our upcoming institutes on frontier technologies,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s dynamic young population is ready to join the EU’s skills and talent partnership programmes.
“We trust the Global Gateway will help realize our vision for a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041,” she said.
The premier said they have fruitful cooperation in security, climate change, and human mobility.
“Our shared values and commitments remain at the heart of our engagements with the EU,” she added.
The premier said they officially launched negotiations on a bilateral partnership and cooperation agreement.
“We signed a landmark contract with EIB for a 350 million-euro loan for investment in renewable energy,” she said.
On this 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-EU relations, she said, “I reaffirm our commitment to further strengthen our strategic engagements.”
The prime minister said Bangladesh is now the world’s 35th largest economy as our 70-billion-dollar economy has grown into 465 billion in less than 15 years.
“We have lifted millions of our people out of poverty. Extreme poverty has come down to 5.6% from 25.1% in 2006. Bangladesh is set to graduate from UN LDC status in 2026,” she said.
She said her government has moved in a planned way to ensure food security, universal school enrollment, community-based healthcare, safe water and sanitation, cost-free housing, rural communication, disaster resilience, climate adaptation, 100% electricity coverage, nation-wide internet, industrial growth, infrastructure development, and most importantly, women’s empowerment.
“We have decided to move from climate vulnerability to resilience and prosperity,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said her father; Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to see Bangladesh as a regional bridge-builder.
With 170 million people, she said Bangladesh is strategically located between South and Southeast Asia and it has the potential to become a trading hub for 3 billion consumers in the region.
Bangladesh’s road, rail, and port infrastructure is being built as part of regional economic corridors, she said, adding that they have constructed the Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge with Bangladesh’s own resources.
“We have offered access to the Bay of Bengal to the land-linked territories of Nepal, Bhutan, and Northeast India. Our airports can serve as gateways between the East and the West,” she said.
Connectivity is a common binding factor between Bangladesh and the EU in our Indo-Pacific outlooks, she opined.
“We appreciate the Global Gateway’s focus on transport networks, health security, green energy, digital transformation, research, and innovation,” she said.