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BD provides adequate facilities and security to investment

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Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi MP stated, the government of Bangladesh is providing adequate investment facilities here, which is very important for investors. Bangladesh provides security for all investments. Other countries are likely to get benefit if it invests in Bangladesh.

He said this while the opening ceremony of the 2-day 35th CEO meeting of the Asian Trade Promotion Forum (ATPF) at a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday, October 19 as the chief guest.

He added, ‘Bangladesh has much skilled manpower. There is a huge market of about 17 crore people. There is also a chance to produce products in Bangladesh at low cost and export them.

The minister also said that through the Asian Trade Promotion Forum (ATPF), mutual information exchange and joint implementation of projects in the Asia Pacific region would benefit everyone. This forum can play an important role in the economic development of the region. Under the guidance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the work of building 100 Special Economic Zones in important places of the country is progressing rapidly. Several are in the final stages of work. There are investment chances in various nations.

Vice Chairman of Export Development Bureau (EPB) AHM Ahsan spoke at the opening ceremony of the meeting, the special guest of the event was Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, JETRO Chairman Nobuhiko Sasaki and FBCCI President Md. Jasim Uddin.

Notably, the total number of members of Asian Trade Promotion Forum (ATPF) are 23 countries. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) serves as the forum’s secretariat.

 

 

 

 

 

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Economy

PM’s State Visit: Dhaka, Delhi eye signing dozen of instruments; new initiatives to strengthen cooperation

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Bangladesh and India are likely to sign over a dozen of bilateral instruments with some new initiatives by identifying new areas of cooperation during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s state visit to India on 21-22 June, officials have said.

The two-day state visit is taking place at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that might carry some directives giving a picture of greater cooperation between the two countries in the future, they said.

This will be the first full-fledged bilateral visit by any head of government to India after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed its government for the third consecutive term.

This will be Hasina’s second trip to the Indian capital in less than 15 days. She was among the dignitaries invited to Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on 9 June.

Though it is unlikely to see any breakthrough on Teesta water sharing deal specifically at this moment, the issue will come up for discussion in addition to a likely discussion on broader Teesta and relevant projects on development and management, a senior official told UNB on Tuesday.

Earlier on 9 May, India reportedly expressed interest to finance Bangladesh’s Teesta project which is known as “Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project”.

“You know, we have taken a big project on Teesta. India wants to finance this project. It will have to be implemented in line with our needs. We want to see our needs fulfilled,” Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud told reporters after his meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 9 May.

The renewal of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty will also come up for discussion, officials said.

Earlier in 2022, the two leaders welcomed the formation of a Joint Technical Committee to conduct a study for optimum utilisation of water received by Bangladesh under the provisions of Ganges Water Sharing Treaty.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen recently said the two countries are scheduled to sign a number of MoUs and agreements and there is an issue of making some announcements on some areas of cooperation.

“There will be continuity of the relations, and we expect to see some new initiatives in our relations,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a reception recently.

Former State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said they would take the Bangladesh-India relations to a new height in the next five years as there are new governments in place in the two neighbouring countries with continuity amid new mandate.

“There will be a stock-taking on what we left in September 2022 and we will take the relations to a new height in the next five years,” he said on Friday, noting that the expectations and aspirations are sky-high.

Recalling earlier discussions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during her state visit to India in September 2022, reiterated Bangladesh’s long pending request for concluding the interim agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta River, the draft of which was finalised in 2011.

Referring to Land Boundary Agreement – LBA – and resolving maritime dispute with India, Shahriar said the countries would gradually be able to resolve the unresolved issues as complex issues had been resolved.

He said there was a 33-point joint statement issued during the state visit of prime minister of Bangladesh to India in September 2022 where issues like Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), energy cooperation, people to people contacts, broader connectivity and others were mentioned.

Shahriar said the upcoming visit of the prime minister will help advance the relations on those areas.

He hoped that the next meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) will be held soon, noting that the 38th meeting of the JRC was held in New Delhi in August, 2022 wherein various matters pertaining to cooperation in water resources sector were discussed.

Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) has been functioning since 1972. It was established with a view to maintain liaison in order to ensure the most effective joint effort in maximising the benefits from common river systems. The JRC is headed by water resources ministers of both the countries.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry indicate that key issues on the agenda include cross-border connectivity initiatives, Indian investments in the Teesta special economic zone, management of Mongla port, and power trade.

Additionally, discussions on a potential trade pact are expected.

Over the past decade, numerous cross-border initiatives have been launched as part of a robust regional partnership plan.

The Modi-Hasina summit on 22 June might also focus on enhancing the defence partnership between the two nations.

This visit marks Sheikh Hasina’s third trip to New Delhi since September 2023, underscoring the strengthening ties between India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh says India is a friendly country and Bangladesh does not compare the Dhaka-Delhi relations with anyone else. “India stood beside us during the War of Liberation in 1971. Our relationship with India is multifaceted. We share borders with India. We are supportive of each other,” Hasan Mahmud said.

PM’s engagements in New Delhi

A flight from Biman Bangladesh Airlines carrying PMHasina and her entourage will depart Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday at about 2pm, according to the sources in the Foreign Ministry.

The flight will land at Palam Airport, New Delhi at about 4pm (Delhi time) where high-level dignitary of India and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Md Mustafizur Rahman will welcome her.

In the evening, Minister of External Affairs of India S Jaishankar will call on her at the Meeting Room of her Place of Residence, Hotel Taj Palace.

On Saturday morning, a red carpet will be rolled out at Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by her Indian counterpart through a ceremonial reception where the National Anthems of Bangladesh and India will be played. She will also inspect the Guard of Honour.

After that, she will go to Raj Ghat to pay tribute to the father of the Indian Nation Mahatma Gandhi by placing a wreath at his Samadhi. She will also sign the visitor’s book there.

Later on the same day, Sheikh Hasina will go to Hyderabad House to hold a tete-a-tete with Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed by delegation- level talks.

Both will witness the signing ceremony of the MoU and agreements.

After that, both the prime ministers will give their press statements. Then they will attend a Banquet Luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister of India in honour of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh at Hyderabad House.

In the afternoon, Hasina will call on the Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar at his Secretariat.

In the evening Sheikh Hasina will call on the President of India Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

At 6 pm (Delhi time), the prime minister will depart from Palam Airport, New Delhi by a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines and will land in Dhaka at about 9pm.

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North Korea says deal between Putin and Kim requires immediate military assistance in event of war

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A new agreement between Russia and North Korea reached by their leaders requires the countries to use all available means to provide immediate military assistance in the event of war, North Korean state media said.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday reported the language of the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement reached by its leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang on Wednesday. The agency said Article 4 of the agreement states that if one of the countries gets invaded and is pushed into a state of war, the other must deploy “all means at its disposal without delay” to provide “military and other assistance.”

The deal could mark the strongest connection between Moscow and Pyongyang since the end of the Cold War. Both Kim and Putin described it as a major upgrade of their relations, covering security, trade, investment, cultural and humanitarian ties.

Russia and North Korea sign partnership deal, vowing closer ties as rivalry deepens with West

The summit came as the U.S. and its allies expressed growing concerns over a possible arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions for its war in Ukraine, in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

Following their summit, Kim said the two countries had a “fiery friendship,” and that the deal was their “strongest-ever treaty,” putting the relationship at the level of an alliance. He vowed full support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Putin called it a “breakthrough document” reflecting shared desires to move relations to a higher level.

North Korea and the former Soviet Union signed a treaty in 1961, which experts say necessitated Moscow’s military intervention if the North came under attack. The deal was discarded after the collapse of the USSR, replaced by one in 2000 that offered weaker security assurances.

South Korean officials said they were still interpreting the results of the summit, including what Russia’s response might be if the North comes under attack, and whether the new deal promises a similar level of protection with the 1961 treaty. South Korean officials didn’t immediately comment on the North Korean report about the details of the deal.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years, with the pace of both Kim’s weapons tests and combined military exercises involving the U.S., South Korea and Japan intensifying in a tit-for-tat cycle.

The Koreas also have engaged in Cold War-style psychological warfare that involved North Korea dropping tons of trash on the South with balloons, and the South broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda with its loudspeakers.

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Govt moves toward 100% paperless services for Smart Bangladesh by 2041

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The government has announced plans to make all its services completely paperless. This initiative is part of the broader “Smart Bangladesh by 2041” vision, aiming to leverage frontier technologies to transform governance.

According to an official document recently presented in the Parliament, the government aims to achieve 100 percent paperless, simplified, and personalized services. “All government services will be made 100 percent paperless, simplified, and personalized to enable frontier-technology-driven on-demand services,” the document states.

Key components of this transformation include making all services accessible and interoperable through the Smart Bangladesh Stack, a digital infrastructure framework. Additionally, data-driven, AI-based dashboards will be introduced for all ministries and departments to enhance decision-making processes.

By 2041, the government aims to significantly improve its standing in the UN e-Government Development Index, targeting a rank below 50. It also seeks to increase the tax-GDP ratio to at least 22 percent through technological advancements.

Another critical goal is to ensure universal and quality healthcare for all citizens, reinforcing the government’s commitment to comprehensive social welfare.

One of the strategic goals for Smart Bangladesh is to establish the country as an innovative nation by 2041. To achieve this, the government is nurturing the next generation of freelancers, CMSME entrepreneurs, and startup founders.

The “One Family, One SEED” initiative is a key part of this strategy, aiming to provide Smart Employment and Entrepreneurship Development (SEED)-based facilities to at least one member of every family by 2041. This initiative is designed to cultivate a robust culture of entrepreneurship across the country.

Additionally, the government is running the “Her Power Project: Empowerment of Women with the Help of Technology,” which provides IT training to 25,125 women across 130 upazilas in 44 districts. After completing the five-month training program, each participant receives a one-month mentorship and a laptop.

The government is actively supporting young entrepreneurs through the Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) project, offering training and financial assistance. As part of decentralizing the innovation ecosystem, the Smart Bangladesh Launchpad is being established as a venture studio to foster new business ventures and startups.

To further support startups, the government has established Startup Bangladesh Limited Company, a venture capital firm that invests in startups at both the seed and growth stages and engages in policy formulation at the national level.

Under the Mission Government Brain (G-Brain), several AI-powered initiatives are being developed, including Personalized Learning InvestorGPT, LawGPT, HealthGPT, and ClimateGPT. These initiatives aim to integrate artificial intelligence into various sectors to enhance efficiency and service delivery.

To facilitate the transition to smart governance, several initiatives have been launched. These include the Government Email Policy 2018 and the integration of 18,434 government offices, including 47 ministries/departments and 64 District Commissioners’ offices, into a unified network.

The Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) has also taken steps to implement e-signature technology without the need for dongles, with 273 officers currently using e-signatures. Additionally, the development of the Digital Municipality Service System (DMSS) is underway, providing e-services in nine municipalities and one city corporation with support from KOICA.

The ‘National Municipal Digital Service’ project aims to expand these services to 329 municipalities, offering 11 e-services. An ERP system with nine modules is being developed to make government offices paperless, with five modules already in use in the ICT and planning departments.

To bridge the gap between the government and the public, the ‘Janatar Sarkar’ citizen interactive web portal has been launched. This portal currently connects 11 ministries/departments, facilitating transparent and interactive communication between citizens and the government.

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