873Published on October 25, 2023
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday appealed to the global leaders to take steps for ending wars, conflicts and arm race to build a better future.
“Human connectivity is the lifeline for peace and progress. We need to prepare better for future crises. We must restore faith in mutual respect and understanding among nations,” she said.
The premier was addressing the opening plenary session of the Global Gateway Forum 2023 at GGF Conference Venue here in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium.
She is participating in the Forum at the invitation of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Hasina said Bangladesh hopes to see the Global Gateway as a great connector for lasting peace and sustainable development.
Over 40 high-level government representatives from EU and partner countries, as well as representatives from financial institutions, the private sector, civil society and international organisations are attending the October 25-26 conference.
They will discuss issues relating to global investment in infrastructure, including challenges faced by the public and private sectors, best practices and lessons learned.
In her speech PM Hasina asked the EU investors to explore facilities in BD economic zones and hi-tech parks.
The prime minister said Bangladesh offers one of the most attractive investment environments in South Asia. “I invite EU investors to explore the facilities in our Special Economic Zones and Hi-Tech Parks. We have scope for working further on decent work and the circular economy,” she said.
With 170 million people, Bangladesh is strategically located between South and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh has the potential to become a trading hub for 3 billion consumers in the region, she said.
She said the road, rail, and port infrastructure is being built in Bangladesh as part of regional economic corridors. Bangladesh has constructed the Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge with its own resources. The country has offered access to the Bay of Bengal to the land-linked territories of Nepal, Bhutan, and Northeast India. The airports of Bangladesh can serve as gateways between the East and the West.
“Connectivity is a common binding factor between Bangladesh and the EU in our Indo-Pacific outlooks,” said Hasina.
She said the EU is a trusted trade, development, and humanitarian partner for Bangladesh. “We 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.
“Today, we 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 reaffirmed Bangladesh’s commitment to further strengthen the strategic engagements with the EU.
She called upon the EU to continue trade preferences for Bangladesh’s smooth LDC graduation.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is now the world’s 35th largest economy and its 70-billion-dollar economy has grown into 465 billion in less than 15 years.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has lifted millions of people out of poverty in Bangladesh. The extreme poverty rate has come down to 5.6 percent from 25.1 percent 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,” said the prime minister.
She said they appreciate the Global Gateway’s focus on transport networks, health security, green energy, digital transformation, research, and innovation. “We seek the EU’s continued trade preferences for our smooth LDC graduation,” she added.
She 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 continued.
She said Bangladesh’s pharmaceuticals and medical equipment industries can support the EU’s efforts at diversifying production. “We seek partners for our upcoming institutes on frontier technologies,” she said.
“Our 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,” said the Bangladesh PM.