Finance Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen has urged to Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries for working together to combat challenges amid global coronavirus pandemic.
The minister came up with the call while speaking as chief guest at the inaugural session of a four-day long dialogue, organised by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), titled- "Bay of Bengal Economic Dialogue 2021: Post-COVID-19 Challenges in the Bay of Bengal Region."
Referring BIMSTEC as a suitable forum to fight the pandemic, Dr Momen said member countries need to work harder in the coronavirus situation and take initiatives to formulate and implement new strategies to tackle the next virus challenges.
He said Bangladesh attaches importance to socio-economic development and prosperity of the BIMSTEC region. To this end, Bangladesh joined the BIMSTEC Forum in 1997 as a founding member of the seven member states of ASEAN and SAARC. Since then, Bangladesh has been working together with other member countries in the development of trade, connectivity, agriculture, culture, people-to-people communication, etc. in the region.
The foreign minister said that mutual development through regional cooperation is considered as a cornerstone of current diplomacy.
Bangladesh is celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who, immediately after independence, was the first to emphasise regional cooperation for the socio-economic development of the region, said the minister.
Since then, the issue of regional cooperation has been an integral part of Bangladesh's constitution and diplomacy. In continuation of this, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the worthy daughter of the Father of the Nation, Bangladesh has been strengthening regional ties through joint cooperation in various regional forums. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has joined the BIMSTEC Forum as a founding member and is working tirelessly to implement Bangladesh's commitment to the forum, he said.
As part of this, the BIMSTEC Secretariat has been established in Dhaka to take the BIMSTEC process forward, Momen said further.
The minister said Bangladesh, as a leading country in trade and development at the BIMSTEC Forum, has been working with member countries to develop trade and commerce in the region. To this end, Bangladesh is playing a leading role in establishing an effective free trade zone.
He hoped that BIMSTEC, as a promising forum, would continue to explore new business opportunities in the region and make effective use of them through joint communication.
Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen, MP inaugurated the session while Executive Director of SANEM, Dr Selim Raihan moderated it.
Secretary General of BIMSTEC Tenzin Lekphell spoke as a special guest at the programme.