Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has expressed Bangladesh's willingness to enter into a free or preferential trade agreement with Canada, in a bid to expand bilateral trade and investments.
He was speaking at a virtual meeting with Canadian Minister for International Development Harjit Sajjan on 14 February to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
"Bangladesh is also committed to deepening and expanding trade and investment relations with Canada and will work closely for a steady growth in this sector," Momen said in a message issued on the occasion. Bangladesh and Canada established diplomatic relations on 14 February 1972.
Harjit Sajjan assured Dr Momen that he would discuss with the Canadian trade minister the possibility of an extension of the duty-free quota-free (DFQF) facility till 2030 and about the possibility of signing a free trade agreement or a preferential trade agreement, the foreign ministry in Dhaka said in a press statement.
The foreign minister reiterated Bangladesh's long-standing request for the deportation from Canada to Bangladesh of Nur Chowdhury, a self-confessed and convicted killer of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
"This killer has been living in Canada as a fugitive for close to thirty years. Canada being known as a proponent of the promotion and protection of human rights and rule of law, the two countries can work together to agree on some modalities for the deportation of this heinous killer and flagrant violator of human rights," he said in the message.
At the virtual meeting, the two ministers discussed a wide range of issues encompassing the Rohingya crisis and Bangladesh's graduation from LDC status to that of a middle-income country, said the foreign ministry.
Noting that Canada and Bangladesh are enjoying very close and congenial relations, the two ministers underscored the point that the two countries need to further consolidate the bilateral ties.
In the area of economic cooperation, the two ministers agreed that the recently established joint working group, namely, "Blue Ribbon", bringing together private sector representatives of the two countries would positively contribute to promoting trade and investment.
The foreign minister, depicting the huge opportunity of investment in 100 special economic zones and 28 hi-tech parks in Bangladesh as well as a young and energetic workforce and lucrative investment package, called for a larger Canadian investment.
In this connection, Momen mentioned ICT as an emerging area in Bangladesh and opined that Canada might make an investment in this sector also.
The Bangladesh foreign minister depicted the socio-economic progress Bangladesh has achieved in the last decade.
In his turn, the Canadian international development minister appreciated Bangladesh's impressive economic progress in recent years, said the foreign ministry in Dhaka.
Underscoring the fact that the repatriation of displaced Rohingyas remains a priority for Bangladesh and expressing concern that their prolonged stay may result in a huge security threat and regional instability due to the possible emergence of extremism and terrorism in the camps, Foreign Minister Momen urged Canada to take a leadership role in resolving the crisis.
In reply, Harjit Sajjan appreciated Bangladesh's continued hosting of one million displaced Rohingyas, and agreed that the ultimate solution must be safe repatriation.
In this regard, he noted that strong international efforts should continue for the Rohingyas' repatriation, adding that Canada will continue its political and humanitarian support.
In his message, Momen recalled the support of the Canadian people and the then Canadian government led by prime minister Pierre Trudeau for the glorious War of Independence waged by Bangladesh's people.
Canada was also one of the first few countries to recognise Bangladesh soon after its liberation.
"I would like to recall that the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and former prime minister Pierre Trudeau laid the foundations of friendship between the two countries, based on a shared commitment to peace, pluralism and the dignity of people," said the foreign minister.