- Dhaka-Male to have robust maritime, air connectivity
- Decision to establish a direct commercial shipping line under an agreement
- Bangladesh Biman will operate commercial flight to Maldives soon
- Maldives working to regularise undocumented Bangladeshis
- Maldives continue to support Bangladesh on Rohingya issue
- MoUs in fisheries, cultural exchange, comprehensive cooperation and foreign office consultations
Bangladesh and the Maldives have signed four memorandums of understanding to boost cooperation in different areas including fisheries and cultural affairs.
Both countries have also agreed to sign the Preferential Trade Agreement.
During their bilateral talks, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the President of the Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih reached the consensus on signing the agreement aimed at increasing trade and commerce, according to a joint communiqué.
The two leaders met on Thursday at the Prime Minister's Office in the capital.
The MoUs include establishment of a joint commission for comprehensive cooperation, establishment of bilateral foreign office consultations, cooperation in the field of fisheries and pelagic fishing and cultural exchange programme for 2022-25.
PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the talks and the signing ceremony.
The two leaders stressed the need to harness bilateral trade potential to its fullest measure and noted the absence of a formal trade agreement between Bangladesh and the Maldives.
In this respect, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed Bangladesh's interest in entering the Preferential Trade Agreement with the Maldives within the purview of the WTO provisions.
The Maldives side welcomed the proposal and agreed to give positive consideration to the text of the draft PTA shared by Bangladesh, reads the joint communiqué.
"Bangladesh is a potential trade partner of the Maldives and the PTA will be signed in near future," Karim said, quoting the Maldives president.
The two leaders also underscored the need to have robust maritime and air connectivity between Bangladesh and the Maldives.
They have decided to establish a direct commercial shipping line between Malé and the three seaports of Bangladesh and instructed their respective officials to work out a shipping agreement at the earliest.
"The commercial shipping line and air connectivity will be established very soon. In this regard, Bangladesh Biman will operate flight to Maldives," said Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen in a joint press conference with his counterpart Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid Abdulla Shahid at InterContinental Hotel.
"If we can build connectivity, the private sectors will flourish with all trade opportunities," said Shahid.
The two leaders reviewed the entire gamut of relations and agreed to expand mutual cooperation in multiple prospective areas, including trade, commerce and investment, welfare of the Bangladesh expatriates community in the Maldives, human resources and youth development, education, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, agriculture, marine resources and fisheries, tourism, culture, people-to-people contacts, air and maritime connectivity, climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster management.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the Maldives to import a variety of world-class products from Bangladesh.
The two governments agreed to regularly hold Commerce Secretary Level Meeting to address bilateral trade issues in detail.
Both sides agreed to expedite the finalisation of proposed agreement on customs cooperation and the signing of the agreement on avoidance of double taxation.
The Maldives will assist Bangladesh in collecting Tuna fish from deep sea.
On the Rohingya issue, the Maldives president said his country wants to work jointly with Bangladesh at the International Courts Justice to protect the rights of Rohingyas.
The Maldives working to regularise undocumented Bangladeshis:
Currently, more than one lakh Bangladeshis are working in the Maldives, according to an unofficial estimate. Thousands of them are undocumented.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requested the Maldives to regularise all undocumented Bangladeshi expatriates living in there.
"We are committed to protecting the rights of expatriates and also working on regularisation of Bangladeshi expatriates in Maldives," said Abdulla Shahid.
According to the Maldivian President Solih, all Bangladeshi expatriates in the Maldives will be vaccinated free of cost which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appreciated.
She proposed considering recruiting Bangladeshi doctors and nurses in the Maldives to mitigate its deficit of medical professionals.
Solih appreciated significant contributions being made by Bangladeshi expatriate workers to the two economies.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh reiterated its policy of extending continued support towards the development of human resources in the Maldives in different fields.
The country also offered training courses to the Maldivian peacekeepers at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operation Training.
On climate change issues, both are agreed to closely work in various multilateral platforms including the UN and climate vulnerable forums.
President Solih called on President Abdul Hamid on Thursday. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed important issues of bilateral interest.
President Abdul Hamid hosted a state banquet in honour of President Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed.
The Maldivian president arrived here on Wednesday to attend the celebrations of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's independence.
He is scheduled to leave Bangladesh with his 27-member team on Thursday night.