Bangladesh promises better future for next generation: survey

survey-future for next generationThe majority of the Bangladeshis are optimistic of their children’s economic future thanks to the steady economic growth the country has seen, a recent study found.

Around 71 percent of the respondents in the survey conducted by the Washington-based “fact tank” Pew Research Centre said their children will be better off than them in future in Bangladesh.

Zahid Hussain, lead economist at the World Bank’s Dhaka office, said the results are not at all surprising as the country has done very well in poverty reduction and human development in the past three decades. “People are encouraged by these achievements.”

Bangladesh’s economy has been growing at a rate of 6 percent over the last one and a half decades, despite several complications. Poverty has been declining by 1.7 percent every year since 2000, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Bangladesh was part of the survey — Global Attitudes Project — that interviewed 48,643 individuals from 44 countries from March 17 to June 5. Bangladesh’s sample size is 1,000.

In general, the survey found that emerging and developing nations are more optimistic that the next generation will have higher standards of living. Furthermore, they see better opportunities at home than abroad.

Majorities or pluralities in 30 of the 34 emerging and developing nations surveyed say they would tell young people in their countries to stay at home in order to lead a good life, instead of moving to another country.

Home textile exports slump

home TextileEuropean Union GSP facility for Pakistan, appreciation of the local currency against the US dollar and recent political turmoil are counted as major factors blocking the growth of country’s potential home-textile exports.

Industry-insiders listed out these impediments as the export earnings from the sector almost stagnated during the last two fiscal years while it posted a negative growth during the first two months of the current fiscal year 2014-15.

The industry fetched $115.99 million in July-August period of the current fiscal, showing a 0.79 per cent negative growth compared to the same period of last fiscal, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data showed.

In the just-concluded fiscal year 2013-14, the country received $792.53 million from home-textile exports. The figure was $791.52 million in FY 2012-13.

Earnings stood at $906.07 million in FY of 2011-12, some $788.76 million in 2010-11, $539.28 million in 2009-10 and $313.51million in 2008-09 respectively.

“Pakistan is a cotton-growing country while now enjoying the new generalised system of preferences (GSP) on the EU market,” Jahangir Alamin, President of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, told the Media.

So, Bangladeshi-made home textiles are lagging behind Pakistan in terms of cost-competitiveness, he said about one of the major causes of setback.

Moreover, he added, the appreciation of taka against the dollar and recent political instability also cast a negative impact on the overall export growth in this sector.

According to a recent study by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) Bangladesh is likely to face strong competitive pressure from Pakistan in home-textile trade.

Pakistan has used the new GSP scheme more effectively than Bangladesh did. Bangladesh’s export to the EU market during the first five months of current calendar year grew by 11 per cent while Pakistan’s by 27 per cent.

“Due to the EU’s new GSP scheme, Pakistan will be the main competitor of Bangladesh on the EU market and our country may face pressure in the days to come,” BFTI director Dr Mostafa Abid Khan said.

Home-textile products will be the main victim of the new system, he lamented.

Shaikh Hasan Zaman, director of Sad Musa Fabrics, said buyers were worried over timely supply on their orders due to the political turmoil for last two years. During the period, many of them have shifted a portion of their orders to other destinations, he added.

Besides, an inadequate supply of gas and power to industrial units severely hampers production. The fuel crunch forced many to generate energy by alternative means, resulting in a rise in the cost of production, he said.

The western consumers’ buying capacity also fell in recent times due to economic recession over there. This resulted in a declining demand for such products, he observed.

Monjurul Haque, marketing manager of Zaber and Zubair Fabrics, country’s largest home-textile maker, said the export of home textiles during recent years increased in terms of value because the buyers paid higher due to the price hike of raw materials such as raw cotton and yarn.

Home-textile-export growth remained stagnant during the last two fiscal years, but quantity of export did not decline, he believed.

Now the prices of raw materials have fallen, so the rates of products, he said, adding: “Bangladesh is the leader on the EU market but yet to grab the US one.”

Bangladesh exports home textiles such as bed-sheets, bedcovers, pillow covers, cushion covers, curtains, rugs, quilt, kitchen aprons, gloves, napkins and tablecloths to European Union countries, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan and Dubai.

According to BTMA, some 17 mills produce about 556.39 million metres of home textiles annually.

LIST HOME TEXTILES-SPECIALISED TEXTILES EXPORTERS

Alltex Industries Ltd
139 Motijheel C/A
Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Phone : 88-02-9569192-96, 9566085
Fax : 88-02-9565569
Email: ail@bol-online.com

The Dacca Dyeing & Mfg Co. Ltd
56-57, Motijheel C/A
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9550355
Fax : 88-02-9550155,9550666
E-mail : info@dd.gc-group.com

Arkay Textile Mfg Co. Ltd.
House 27/1, Road 10/A, Dhanmondi R/A,
Dhaka 1207,Bangladesh.
Phone:88-02- 9111201, 9133240,8124276
Fax : 88-02-8113384.
E-mail:arkay@bangla.net

Chowdhury Towel Ind (Pvt) Ltd.
13/A, West End Street, Central Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Phone : 88-02-9661120, 9665232.
Fax : 88-02-8616750, 9660441
E-mail : ckl@bangla.net

Hashem Textile Mills Ltd.
20 Nazumiah lane, Boxirhat,
Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Phone : 88-031-634602.,682747
Fax : 88-031-610110, 614957.
E-mail : newera@spnetctg.com

Rony Textile Textile Mills Ltd
Plot # 53, Sector-1, 849/1, Nazumeah Lane, Boxirhat,
Chittagong, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-031-634813

Online Ltd.
36 Purana Paltan (3rd Flr), Daily
Sangbad Bldg, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9666637
Fax : 88-02-9565352.
E-mail : online@bttb.netbd.

Shabnam Textile Mills Limited
9F, Motijheel CA, DSE BLDG
(2nd Flr), Room No. 315,
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9554541, 9551976, 9563498.
Fax : 88-02-9554542, 9564721
E-mail : echo@bangla.net

Wiz Fashions Ltd
College Road, Tejgaon,
Dhaka 1215, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9113353
Fax : 88-02-9125197
E-mail : wizfassion@37.com

Zaman Dyeing & Fabrics Ltd.
108/B, Siddeshwari Circular Road,
Dhaka 1217,Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-8319946, 9338361
Fax : 88-02-8313229
E-mail : ayesha@bangla.net
nomangr@baugla.net

Zaber & Zubair Fabrics Ltd
Globe Chamber (4th Flr),
104 Motijheel C/A,
Dhaka 1217, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9565281-2
Fax : 88-02-9565280
E-mail : nomangr@bangla.net

Nipun (Pvt.) Ltd
38, Free School Street,Kathalbagan
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9661569
Fax : 88-02-8614184
E-mail : nipunltd@citechco.net

Bangladesh Specialized Textile Mills & Powerloom Industries Association
Palton tower (2nd floor)
87, Purana Palton Lane
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9360736
Fax : 88-02-9360736
E-mail: bstmpia@shapla.net.

The spirit of sacrifice unites Bangladesh on Eid-ul-Azha

eid1Muslims in Bangladesh are celebrating the Eid-ul-Azha on Monday, the second most important festival in the Islamic calendar, by offering prayers and sacrificing animals.
On this day, Muslims slaughter cattle to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son at Allah’s command.

Much of the meat will be given away to others – the animal is cut into three pieces, with one portion eaten in a celebratory dinner by family, another portion offered to friends, and the remaining portion donated to those less fortunate and unable to afford a cattle.

But residents of more than 100 villages in the country celebrated the festival on Saturday in keeping with Saudi Arabia.

Like previous years, the biggest Eid congregation will be held at Kishoreganj’s Sholakia.

In Dhaka, the National Eidgah will host the main congregation at 8am, which will bring together people from all walks of life.

National mosque Baitul Mukarram will host five consecutive Eid congregations every hour starting 7am.

Eid prayers will be followed by sacrificing animals.

Bangladesh PM accused of muzzling dissent after polls

Prime Minister Sheikh HasinaHaving ridden out the uproar over her walkover re-election, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now attempting to silence any further dissent with the crucial backing of the military, say observers.

The United States was among a host of countries to demand new polls that “credibly express the will” of the people after Hasina’s ruling Awami League romped to victory in a January ballot boycotted by the
opposition.

But rather than reach out to critics, Hasina has been accused of since seeking to hound them through the courts, muzzle the media and neuter the judiciary to cement her rule.

“The government hastily ratified these laws and policies to consolidate power,” Ataur Rahman, an expert on Bangladeshi politics from the State
University of New York, said.

“With a tamed media and judiciary, the government can easily continue to rule unchallenged for years and the opposition won’t be able to mobilise people to destabilise the regime.”

Few eyebrows were raised when opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s attempts to prevent corruption allegations from coming to trial failed, as her enmity with Hasina dates back years. Her trial began last month.

But almost the entire leadership of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party is now fighting multiple court cases, many over claims they were accessories to molotov cocktail attacks that injured no one.

According to the Prothom Alo daily, police filed cases against 355,908 people for violence since the turn of the year while thousands more are on the run.

“Now most leaders spend the better part of the day on court premises fighting charges and seeking bail,” Nur Khan Liton, a leading rights activist, said.

Accusations that judges took their orders from politicians were raised last year when a special government-appointed tribunal convicted a number of Islamists of war crimes dating back to the 1971 liberation
conflict.

The Supreme Court has generally been seen as independent, its judgements embarrassing military and civilian governments alike over the years.

But legislation ratified last month means parliament now has the power to sack Supreme Court judges.

In August the government also rolled out new regulations for broadcasters, including a ban on speech deemed “anti-state”.

Mahmudur Rahman Manna, a popular television host until his recent sacking, says he lost his job due to government
pressure.

“The management told me the show was becoming very critical of the government and they were dropping me because of pressure from the government,” Manna, who worked for the private
Channel 24, said.

Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch said the government was imposing “draconian restrictions” on the media to allow it “to take arbitrary action against those it sees as its political
opponents”.

“This policy exemplifies how little appreciation the government has for free speech,” said Adams, the New York-based group’s Asia director.

Officials say such criticism is unfair and deny democracy is being undermined.

“It is absolutely not true that the government is trying to cement its power by introducing the new laws,” Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, the prime
minister’s media adviser, said.

“Rather the legislation empowering the parliament to impeach the judges and the media policy are to make these
institutions more democratic.”

Insisting there was no government pressure to sack Manna, Information Secretary Martuza Ahmed said broadcasters and newspapers would continue to “enjoy full freedom” as
enshrined in the constitution.

Chowdhury said the legislation on sacking judges was in Bangladesh’s original constitution which was repealed after a 1975 coup.

“We have just restored that provision to strengthen
democracy,” he said.

The military has a long history of intervening in politics and the former territory of East Pakistan has seen more than a dozen coups since its bloody war of secession from
Islamabad in 1971.

As the widow of general-turned-president Ziaur Rahman, Zia was once seen as a natural ally of the army.

In contrast, Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman — Bangladesh’s founding leader — was assassinated in a coup less than four years after independence. She faced down a mutiny weeks after she took power
in 2009.

But relations have improved markedly and the military stood firm with the government when protests leading up to January’s polls turned violent.

While there were suspicions that recent anti-government protests led by Imran Khan in Pakistan had the army’s tacit support, analysts say Hasina has no need to watch her back.

“For the first time, the military is absolutely under the grip of Hasina,” said Rahman.

And diplomats who raised questions about the legitimacy of the polls back in January have tempered their language.

US ambassador to Dhaka Dan Mozena last week called future elections “an internal issue” that Bangladesh’s political
parties need to resolve.

Bay of Bengal more secure with US Collabration

Bay of Bengal “more secure”,Bangladeshi and American maritime partnership has made the Bay of Bengal “more secure”, the US ambassador in Dhaka has said.
Dan Mozena on Tuesday said Bangladesh could slash piracy at the Bay of Bengal by 70 percent, an achievement that he said brought the shipping insurance rates down by 40 percent.

“Chittagong is no longer listed as a high-risk seaport,” he said at the closing of the fourth US and Bangladesh joint naval exercise at Chittagong.

According to him, Bangladesh’s success in securing its maritime borders and its vast maritime domain is “good for all nations that support freedom of the seas”.

“Safe and secure sea lanes are vital for the economic well-being of the people of Bangladesh, the people of America, and the people of South Asia,” he said, adding that those sea lanes today were “ever more safe”.

The annual exercise known as Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) is the bilateral exercise series between US Navy and nine countries of the South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of this exercise mostly focused on non-traditional threats that littoral countries face including disasters and piracy.

Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral AMM Aurangzeb Chowdhury at the closing ceremony said the exercise helped Bangladesh Navy to enhance their professional skills.

He said in the present world, threats were trans-national in nature that needed co-operation and partnership of all.

“The (exercise) outcome was splendid,” he said.

This year’s exercise was special to Bangladesh Navy as the US Navy’s newest and most advanced P-8 marine aircraft joined the six-day exercise that took place both on shore and off the Bay of Bengal.

The P-8 aircraft is a specially designed naval aircraft that conducts both anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, among its numerous roles.

During the exercise in the Bay, the US Navy’s diving ship ‘Safeguard’ joined the Bangladesh Navy’s BNS Bangabandhu, BNS Somudro Joy and AW-109 naval helicopter.

Somudro Joy, which was a US Coast Guard cutter before being transferred to Bangladesh last year, joined this training for the first time.

Ambassador Mozena said Bangladesh and America were both “maritime powers”.

“Exercises like CARAT help our respective navies get to know each other better, understand each other better, and learn from each other to defend the maritime domain against those who seek to do us harm.”

The US has helped Bangladesh to set up a naval commando base Special Warfare, Diving and Salvage Command (SWADS) than can response rapidly to any maritime situation.

It has also provided 16 high-speed boats to Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Coast Guard.

The ambassador said joint efforts of the navy and coastguards helped to slash piracies.

He said his country’s partnership with Bangladesh helped it “build ever greater capacity to secure its maritime border against those who seek to use the seas to advance terrorism and violent extremism.

“…against those who seek to traffic drugs, people, and arms, against those who seek to steal Bangladesh’s fish and other maritime assets.”

The US earlier announced that Bangladesh Navy would get a second cutter, the Rush, to complement the Somudro Joy.

A naval team is now in Hawaii undertaking a joint visual inspection of the cutter, the ambassador said.

Bangladesh Court Commutes Death Sentence of Delwar Hossain Sayedee

Delwar Hossain Sayedee Denied Playing Role in Atrocities During Country’s War for Liberation.
A Bangladeshi court commuted the death sentence of a senior opposition politician convicted of war crimes to life in prison Wednesday, sparking clashes in the capital.

An appellate bench of the Supreme Court sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, to life in prison for his role in atrocities committed during Bangladesh’s fight for liberation from Pakistan in 1971.

Mr. Sayedee, one of the country’s best-known Islamic preachers, was sentenced to death last year by a special tribunal that found him guilty of murder, rape and religious persecution during the war. He denied all charges. The sentencing triggered violence across the country in which dozens of people died.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in the 1971 war, many at the hands of Islamist militia who opposed independence and wanted Bangladesh—then East Pakistan—to remain part of Pakistan.

for Delwar Hossain SayedeeOn Wednesday, a rival group of protesters took to the streets in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, laying bare the deep divisions caused by the war crimes trials, which were started three years ago by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. Ms. Hasina’s detractors say she has used the war crimes tribunals as a weapon to quiet her political opponents; she denies these claims.

Activists clashed with police in the University of Dhaka area shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision, demanding the death penalty for Mr. Sayedee and other men on trial for war crimes.

The Jamaat-e-Islami—Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, which often has allied itself with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party against Ms. Hasina’s Awami League—called a nationwide strike for Thursday and Sunday in protest of the court ruling, which it said was flawed because Mr. Sayedee is innocent.

Bangladesh’s attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, said the state was disappointed with the sentence commutation.

“The court confirmed his guilt and ordered him to be imprisoned until the end of his biological life,” he said at a news conference. “I had hoped for the death sentence.”

Tajul Islam, a lawyer for Mr. Sayedee, who has been in prison since 2010, said the defense would seek a review of the appellate bench’s decision.

“My client is innocent, and we had hoped he would be acquitted on appeal,” he said. “The evidence against him was flawed, and there were numerous irregularities in the trial process.”

Mr. Sayedee’s original trial sparked controversy last year after a Human Rights Watch report said a key defense witness might have been abducted by security forces shortly before he was due to testify.

Tensions in Bangladesh have been particularly high in recent months, amid policy moves by the ruling Awami League that critics say are aimed at consolidating control over the country and silencing naysayers.

The opposition is calling for the government to withdraw a recent constitutional amendment that gives parliament the power to impeach Supreme Court judges. Some lawyers have argued the move would undermine judicial independence.

The ruling party has said the amendment is necessary to prevent misconduct in the judiciary branch.

Bangladesh-Turkey businesses stress FTA

Bangladesh turkyThe Turkish government imposed 17 percent duty on import of textile and garment items from Bangladesh in June 2012 to protect its domestic apparel industry. All Bangladeshi products, except garment items, enjoy zero-duty benefit in the Turkish market.

“We are working on the FTA. We sat with the officials of the Turkish economic ministry on August 26 and 27 in Turkey to fast track the process,” said Monoj Kumar Roy, additional commerce secretary of Bangladesh.

“The ongoing negotiation for signing the deal should be continued, and it should be signed soon,” Rizanur Meral, chairman of Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (Tuskon), had told The Daily Star at the Turkey-World Trade Bridge-2014 in June.

Tuskon is a non-governmental and non-profit umbrella organisation, representing seven business federations, 202 business associations and more than 50,000 entrepreneurs of Turkey.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had announced during her Turkey visit in April 2012 that an FTA will be signed to utilise the business potential of the two countries.

“Bangladesh is a good destination for business. We should collaborate with Bangladesh,” Meral said.

He also said the Turkish businesspeople now want that all Bangladeshi products get duty-free access to their market.

“The FTA is a win-win situation. We have many things to sell to Bangladesh, and on the other hand, Bangladesh has also many things to sell to Turkey.”

Yusuf Akgun, the board chairman of the Turkish Akgun Construction Company, said he is ready to help Bangladesh government develop an industrial zone.

Akgun is now developing an industrial zone in Ethiopia at a cost of around $2 billion with a target to export goods worth $15 billion from the zone.

“My next target is to build up an industrial zone in Kazakhstan.” He also developed the Ikitelli industrial zone in Istanbul in 1984.

Fatih Alparslan, general secretary to the Association of Development Industrialists and Businessmen of Turkey, said Bangladesh has a lot of business opportunities to explore in Turkey.

Alparslan said businesses in the Kayseri province in Turkey import leather and leather products paying high duty. “Bangladesh can easily grab this leather and leather goods market.”

Bangladeshi businesspeople can also invest in industrial areas in Kayseri, which is also famous for furniture products, doors and natural marble stones, he said.

“Bangladesh and Turkey have been maintaining a friendly relation for a long time, but the economic relations have failed to reach the expected level,” said Fikret Cicek, president of Turkey-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We need to sign the FTA for better business between the two countries,” said Cicek, who led a Bangladeshi business delegation to the Turkey-World Trade Bridge.

Mamata Banerjee to meet Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh.

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Mamata Banerjee has called the Deputy High Commissioner to discuss the issue,” sources said

In the wake of allegations against one of the MPs of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) for providing money raised from the Saradha Group to Jamaat-e-Islami-Bangladesh (JMB), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will meet Abida Islam, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Kolkata. The Chief Minister will meet the Mr. Islam at the State Secretariat at 4 p.m. on Monday. However, an official of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission has confirmed that the meeting has got nothing to do with the ongoing probe related to the Chit Fund scam.

“Ms Islam is leaving the country (India) shortly, so we have asked for an appointment with the Chief Minister. It is a routine courtesy call,” the official said. The meeting, however, is significant, as it is going to take place at a time when several intelligence and media reports have indicated that an MP of AITC, Ahmed Hassan Imran, had given money to Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JMB), to destabilize the Awami League government in Bangladesh. The media reports — mostly originated from internal and external intelligence inputs — have also indicated that the money was acquired by Mr Imran from Sudipta Sen, CMD of the Saradha Group. Awami League is considered a pro-India party in Bangladesh, while the JMB is one of the key opposition parties and opposes Indian policies.

Mr Imran, who was earlier interrogated by the CBI, for selling his newspaper to Sudipta Sen at an allegedly astronomical amount, denied any involvement in the scam.

“The amount is properly accounted. No money was handed over to anyone in Bangladesh and it was duly explained to the CBI,” Mr Imran told reporters after he was interrogated by the investigating agency, couple of weeks back.

Dhaka launches global initiative to fight autism

Saima Wazed Hossain, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh,Health experts suggest ensuring quality of traditional medicines at WHO conference.
Bangladesh yesterday launched a global initiative to address the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in the South-East Asia Region of World Health Organization.
Saima Wazed Hossain, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh, will lead the initiative titled “Global Initiative on Autism”, to be supported by WHO.
“In the last two to three years, we have already created awareness on autism, but much more needs to be done,” she told a press briefing on the sidelines of the ongoing sixty-seventh session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital.
Saima, also a school psychologist and an expert adviser of WHO on mental health, said more global partnership, involving WHO and development partners, was crucial to take forward the cause of those having autism.
Around 0.8 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 years have autism or neurodevelopment disorders in Bangladesh, said Prof Golam Rabbani, chairperson of Neurodevelopment Disability Protection Trust of the social welfare ministry.
He said early diagnosis of children with any neurodevelopment disorders was better to treat them.
Autism spectrum disorders are a complex medical condition, characterised by a lack of language development, impaired social communication, hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation, repetitive mannerisms and restricted interests.
These conditions, in turn, affect a person’s health, social, educational and economic functioning, says WHO.
“We must empower families and communities with information and services to create a more inclusive world for children who suffer from ASDs,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia.
“There is an urgent need to develop innovative ways and embed appropriate interventions into health systems to reach the affected,” she said at a side event of the regional conference.
In another session of the event, health experts suggested maintaining rigorous standards to ensure quality of traditional medicines.
“If appropriately integrated into the existing health systems, traditional medicines can play an important role in achieving Universal Health Coverage,” said Dr Poonam.
She mentioned that traditional medicine practitioners remain the primary healthcare providers for millions of people in South-East Asia.
In Bangladesh, around 70 people in the rural and semi-urban areas prefer to use traditional Ayurvedic or Unani medicines, Dr Gaur Mani Singh, line director of the Directorate General of Health Services.
WHO in a statement said it had launched a strategy to meet the increasing demand of traditional medicines, improve quality, safety and efficacy.
In a plenary session on harmful drinking of alcohol, Health Minister Mohammed Nasim called upon the South-East Asian countries to wage a movement against drug abuse, saying that such abuses of drugs were destroying many of the youths.
Meanwhile, Nasim on Wednesday called upon Maldives Health Minister Hussain Rashid to provide health insurance to the Bangladeshis working in the Maldives.
During the bilateral talks on the sidelines of the conference, Rashid assured of considering the issue.

Accelerate Japan Bangladesh Relations: Abe arrived in Dhaka

Japan is a tested Fried of Bangladesh.Bangladesh sacrifices UNSC candidacy supporting Japan.Bangladesh has withdrawn its candidature for the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in support of its ‘long-tested’ friend Japan, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced.
The announcement came at a joint briefing after the summit talk with her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Saturda.
In a first visit by any Japanese prime minister in 14 years, Abe arrived in Dhaka around 1pm on a less than 22 hour tour.

Bangladesh and Japan were the two contenders for the non-permanent seat for 2016-2017.

But only one will be elected from Asia Pacific region.

Japan has long been trying to lure Bangladesh for its support for Tokyo’s candidature.

Hasina during his Tokyo visit told Japanese media at a briefing that Japanese people would definitely get “good news” during Abe’s tour in Dhaka.

She invited him to visit Bangladesh during their meeting in Tokyo in May.

“I will have to go back and discuss the matter with my cabinet colleagues. But we will definitely value the friendship with Japan,” Hasina had then said.

“We always remember with gratitude the Japanese support… Japan is our tested friend and Bangladesh is ready to make any sacrifice for the tested friend,” she also said.

During that visit, Abe promised $6 billion development assistance for Bangladesh for the next four to five years.

In his first speech on Saturday before the summit meeting he also said he would “promote” trade and investment in Bangladesh.

Making the announcement at her office, Hasina said Bangladesh and Japan have “an excellent understanding and long history of cooperation” in the field of international affairs, including at the UN.

She gave a broad context before announcing the withdrawal of Bangladesh’s candidature.

“….in view of Japan’s continued and strong support in Bangladesh’s development process, and in the interest of solidarity and unity of the Asia-Pacific Group at the UN, it is my pleasure to declare that Bangladesh would support Japan’s candidature from the Asia Pacific Group for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the term 2016-17,” Hasina announced.

“We would also withdraw Bangladesh’s candidature in favour of Japan,” she said.

Abe thanked Hasina for the announcement.

Hasina said Japan has always been supportive of Bangladesh role in particular in the “UN Peace keeping and Peace Building”.

She recalled her May visit, and said Japan has further offered technical assistance in setting up a “Peace –Building Centre” in Dhaka for which preliminary works have already commenced.

“We deeply appreciate Japan’s offer for this cooperation as well as Japan’s commitment and contribution to establishing and maintaining global peace and stability,” she said.

Hasina said Bangladesh served on the UN Security Council “successfully” winning elections in New York with overwhelming support from friends in the years 1979-1980 and 1999-2000.

“Few years back we had launched a fresh candidature to the Security Council from the Asia-Pacific Group for the term 2016-2017.

“In 2011 our long-tested friend Japan also launched their candidature for the same term from the Asia Pacific Group.

“Since then our two governments have been closely consulting with a view to upholding our mutual cooperation and Group solidarity in multilateral fora”.

Hasina also recalled with “deep gratitude the support and empathy of the friendly people and the government of Japan during our War of Liberation”.

She said she had “a frank, warm and fruitful discussion” with her counterpart.

The prime minister appreciated Shinzo Abe for bringing Japanese businesses leaders along with him.

She also highlighted the bilateral relations, and said both sides enjoy “excellent friendly relations”.

Japan has emerged as the largest development partner of Bangladesh over the years by providing over $12 billion financial support since independence.

Hasina also referred the fresh commitment Abe made during her visit in May and said “we understand the Japanese commitment would not be limited to the amount”.

She said both countries launched “comprehensive partnership” in order to further broaden and deepen the bilateral cooperation in all areas.

Japan has also launched a programme for Bangladesh under the “Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B)” to what, Hasina said, “help us achieve economic developments through improvement of investment climate and infrastructure”.

“I have also expressed our readiness to contribute to the Japanese construction works as well as health and nursing sectors,” she said.

Shinzo Abe in the joint press announcement expressed his gratitude to the people of Bangladesh for supporting Japan in its bid for the non-permanent seat on the UNSC.

He said this decision would “further strengthen” bilateral relations and enhance international cooperation.

Bangladesh seeks ‘Bay of Bengal partnership’ for blue economy

Bangladesh has sought ‘Bay of Bengal partnership’ for sustainable economic growth leveraging the blue ocean to its south.
“Blue economy must be inclusive and people-centric,” the foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali said on Tuesday at the end of the two-day international workshop on blue economy in Dhaka.

Bangladesh hosted this workshop for the first time bringing together more than 30 experts and representatives of 20 countries.

The foreign minister gave an idea of the collaboration that could take place and said it must be based on certain universal principles of engagement — mutual trust, respect, mutual benefits, and equitable sharing of benefits.

“And collaboration will have to be in research, observation, surveillance and in respect of sharing of analyses, outcomes, observations,” he said while concluding the two-day discussions.

The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world that forms the north-eastern part of the Indian Ocean.

It is bordered mostly by India and Sri Lanka to the west, Bangladesh to the north, and Myanmar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the east.

Bangladesh took interest in hosting the workshop after it has settled its maritime boundary disputes with neighbouring India and Myanmar “peacefully”.

Sovereign rights have been established on more than 118,000 sq km of maritime territory, 200 nautical miles (NM) of exclusive economic zone, and 354 NM of continental shelf after positive verdicts in international courts.

It has raised hopes of extracting “plenty of resources” from the Bay of Bengal, considered by Bangladesh as its “third neighbour”.

But Dhaka lacks expertise and technology to exploit the resources, which is believed to have prompted the minister to seek global partnership.

The foreign ministry earlier said they were planning to draw up a maritime policy.

“Bangladesh is at a nascent stage of development and assessment of blue economy,” the foreign minister said.

He said the blue economy was “much more robust and key to sustainable development”.

Ali said it was “essential” to create robust ‘maritime domain awareness’ among people-at-large, communities, policy-makers across legislature, and executive.

It was also “crucial” to assess, observe and analyse the profound yet unmeasured and uncertain impacts of climate change on oceans and seas, including the Bay of Bengal, he said.

“This is besides the analyses done by IPCC,” Ali said.

He also pitched for generating knowledge and data that he said has to be particularly relevant to the needs of coastal and island states, whose economy are still developing.

“And, data will have to be relevant to the greater benefit of lives and livelihoods of larger population,” he said.

It was “equally important for developing countries to gain access to available, contemporary and critical data from across-the-world”.

Based on two-day discussions, the foreign minister said development of adaptive technology, transfer of critical technology to developing littoral states was a “common space” one needs to learn to share.

The role of private sector is vital and for this the minister suggested creating policy frameworks to attract critical private investment for blue economy.

He said the need of “effective governance” in policy came out clearly during the workshop as far as strategies for overall maritime and related sectors are concerned.

“The need for cooperation has come out robustly,” he said.

Based on the discussions, the minister said, “let us move together and ahead with a ‘Bay of Bengal partnership for Blue Economy’ to secure sustainable development among the coastal or littoral States”.

“…..let us go back from Dhaka with these messages,” he said.

Blue economy became a buzzword for sustainable development particularly in drafting the post-2015 development goals.

The foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque said about 1.4 billion people were living along the Bay of Bengal coast line.
“It’s a people’s highway,” he said.

But there is a strategic and geo-political interest to countries around the Bay.

“Next time we’ll discuss more on political aspects,” he said as the workshop focused solely on development issues.

Secretary of the maritime affairs department of the foreign ministry Khurshid Alam said all have to cooperate and combat the menace that damages sea, referring to the potential impacts of climate change.

“Sea unites, land divides,” he said as there is no boundary in the sea.

Reaz Hamidullah, director general of the foreign ministry’s economic wing, read out a summary of the two-day workshop and said all participants proposed for engagement based on “mutual trust, respect, equitable benefits and equitable benefit sharing”.

He said in partnership and collaboration, the state would be responsible primarily, but private sector must play crucial role.

Bangladesh no longer in pirate prone countries

blue economy
blue economy
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said journey in the sea route is safe now as Bangladesh is no longer in the list of pirate prone countries.

‘Blue Economy’ is a concept that can significantly contribute to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“Blue economy concept has ushered in a new horizon for economic development of the coastal countries through utilising the sea and marine resources at national and international level,” she told the inaugural ceremony at an international seminar on the issue here on Monday.

She said the role of marine resources in poverty alleviation, acquiring autarky in food production, protecting environmental balance, facing adverse impacts of climate change and other economic possibilities are unlimited.

“Alongside the existing land-based development activities, the marine-based economic activities through the management of sea and its resources through Blue Economy may be considered as a new horizon for development of the coastal countries and the small island developing states,” Hasina said.

Describing the Bay of Bengal as Bangladesh’s ‘third neighbour’, the Prime Minister said: “There is no doubt that sea-related subjects like expansion of international trade, use of marine mineral resources for long-term energy security, proper management of marine fish resources and protecting marine environment and bio-diversity would determine Bangladesh’s future development and economic growth.”

“We have to ensure sustainable development through proper utilization of the potentials of the sea and marine resources,” she said.

Hasina said that her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman enacted the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act 1974 to establish Bangladesh’s sovereign rights over the sea and its resources.

Consequent to this some of the important provisions of Bangladesh’s Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act of 1974 were also included in the UNCLOS 1982. Especially the articles 7(2) of the UNCLOS on deltaic base line for highly unstable coastline were incorporated on Bangladesh’s insistence, she claimed.

But the Prime Minister regretted that Bangladesh could not harness resources of the sea due to non delimitation of maritime boundary with neighbours India and Myanmar for a long time.

She blamed ‘successive governments in Bangladesh’ for not taking appropriate and realistic steps to settle the issue of maritime boundary and alleged they instead ‘ created various complexities’.

“Owing to the absence of maritime boundary demarcation, people of Bangladesh were not able to take any effective steps to exploit and explore the marine resources of the Bay of Bengal,” she said, adding that while Bangladesh fishermen faced difficulties in exploiting the resources, those from other countries ‘easily plundered fish resources due to unsettled maritime boundary’.

She said after coming to power in 1996, her government ratified the UNCLOS in 2001 with a view to ensuring legal rights over marine resources.

After the ratification, Bangladesh was supposed to submit relevant scientific and technical data to the UN for establishing extended continental shelf, she said.

“In March, 2010, we conducted the first marine seismic survey in the history of Bangladesh. After completing all the technical and legal documentation details, we lodged our submission with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) on 25 February 2011; five months before the scheduled deadline.”

Hasina said ‘sustained efforts’ by her government led to the favourable verdict by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Germany in the delimitation case with Myanmar on 14 March in 2012.

“The award helped us establishing sovereign rights over the living and nonliving resources of the Bay of Bengal in the Exclusive Economic Zone within 200 nm and in the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. In the same way, the verdict with India declared on 7 July 2014 also allowed Bangladesh’s sovereign rights on all the living and mineral resources of the Continental Shelf extending upto 354 nautical miles.”

She claimed Bangladesh has set an example in Asia in settling maritime boundary peacefully with her neighbors, the allusion clearly pointing to the tensions in the South China Sea.

“A huge stock of living and non-living resources is available under the seabed and water column. But we have a dearth of skilled manpower to ascertain the availability and explore the resources. Besides, there is also lack of proper technology for exploiting deep sea fishes and seabed resources. To build skilled manpower in these sectors, we have taken steps to impart higher education on Oceanography at the Dhaka University and Chittagong University. The first National Oceanographic Research Institute’ is being established at Ramu to create marine scientific community for research,” Hasina said.

The Prime Minister insisted on strengthening the navy and the coast guard to fight piracy and protect the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone and its Continental Shelf that held the key to the steps for establishing an effective ‘blue econom
The PM inaugurated the workshop where some 32 experts, academicians and government officials from 20 countries are taking part.