- Published on Thursday, 15 June 2017 23:57
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Bangladesh and Sweden have pledged to work together to combat terrorism and identified new areas of cooperation like energy security, technological innovation, trade and development of smart cities between the two countries.
The consensus came during the official talks between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Swedish counterpart Stefan Lovfen.
Sheikh Hasina is now in Stockholm on a three-day bilateral visit at the invitation of her Swedish prime minister.
Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the talks held at the Prime Minister's Office at Stockholm.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Sweden Golam Sarwar and PM's Deputy Press Secretary M Nazrul Islam were present at the briefing.
The foreign secretary said this is the first-ever bilateral official visit by any head of government or state of Bangladesh to Sweden.
Haque said the Swedish premier at the talks said the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has opened up the "next phase of relations" between the two countries.
"The visit has also unveiled the door of long-term relationship between Sweden and Bangladesh," the foreign secretary quoted the Lofven as saying.
The foreign secretary said at the talks the two premiers pledged to work together to fight terrorism.
He said the two leaders discussed various issues and identified some new sectors like energy security, technological innovation, trade and smart city development for cooperation.
In this context, the Swedish prime minister discussed with Sheikh Hasina on how the Scandinavian country could help Bangladesh ensure energy security.
Lofven also expressed Swedish interest to assist Bangladesh in technology innovation and highlighted the role of the private sector in this regard.
The Swedish prime minister said there is a huge potentiality for expanding cooperation in trade and business between the two countries.
The foreign secretary pointed out that currently, the volume of trade is hugely in favour of Bangladesh.
Lofven said Sweden is collaborating with different developing countries about setting up of smart cities.
The Swedish premier discussed with the Bangladesh prime minister about how Sweden could contribute to developing smart cities in Bangladesh.
The foreign secretary said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended her thanks to her counterpart as Sweden recognized independent Bangladesh on the 4th February in 1972 as one of the first few European countries, adding "Sweden had always helped Bangladesh."
Elaborating the country's march towards development, she said that Bangladesh has attained 7.24 percent GDP growth in the outgoing fiscal year and pointed out tremendous development in various sectors of Bangladesh including the RMG.
She also mentioned the setting up of countrywide 100 special economic zones to spur economic development.
Regarding the 2030 Development Agenda where Sweden is one of the major players, Haque said Sweden wants to implement the 2030 Development Agenda teaming up with the developing countries where they have identified Bangladesh as a potential country.
About the global deal where the Swedish prime minister back in 2014 at the UN floated a new idea underscoring the need for improving industrial relations considering the changing nature and works of the industries, Lofven said that the concept is old fashioned and new industrial relationship will have to be developed.
"It would be important to ensure the right of workers," the Swedish prime minister, said adding that they want to make global experience in this regard with some pilot countries.
About Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's announcement to support the "Readymade-Garment Tripartite Consultative Council, as a new commitment in the framework of Global Deal, Haque said the Swedish government wants to provide technical support to this end and the Bangladesh government accepted the offer in this connection.
"Now, one of the buyers has come up with some new innovative ideas as Bangladesh has been facing challenges at different times in the RMG sector," added the foreign secretary.
The Bangladesh delegation that represented in the talks included Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PMO Senior Secretary Suraiya Begum, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque, Labour Secretary Michael Shipper, Bangladesh Ambassador to Sweden Md Golam Sarwar and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Executive Chairman Kazi Aminul Islam.
Earlier, the two premiers held a tete-a-tete, the foreign secretary said.
Photo: Focus Bangla