First ever Bilateral Consultations (Foreign Office Consultations) between the Foreign Ministries of Bangladesh and Malaysia took place today, 15 May 2017 at the State Guest House Meghna. Foreign Secretary Md. ShahidulHaque led the Bangladesh delegation while Dato' Ramlan Ibrahim, Secretary General, Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, led the Malaysian side.
The Meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere.While both sides expressed satisfaction at the current state of bilateral relations, they stressed on the need for regular exchange of visits, including at the highest level, as well as regular contacts and interaction between leaders and officials, to steer bilateral cooperation.
During the meeting, major areas of bilateral cooperation were discussed at length. Bilateral trade received a major focus in the Consultation. While noting the fact that the two-way trade between Bangladesh and Malaysia has increased substantially in recent years, both sides agreed that the trade volume was far less than the existing potentials. Bangladesh emphasized on addressing the huge trade gap between the two countries and requested Malaysia to widen the duty-free quota-free access of Bangladeshi products. Malaysian side highlighted the need for starting negotiation for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Malaysian side suggested that conclusion of Free Trade Agreement would help reduce huge trade gap between the two countries.
Bangladesh encouraged Malaysia for more investment in Bangladesh and proposed gradual relocation of Malaysian labour intensive manufacturing industries to Bangladesh in the Economic Zones being set up by the Government.
Employment of Bangladeshi workforce in Malaysia featured prominently in the Consultations. Bangladesh thanked Malaysia for including Bangladesh as an official source country for recruitment of foreign workforce. Both sides took note of the beginning of implementation of the G2G+ mechanism for recruitment of Bangladeshi worker into Malaysia and agreed to work closely to make the initiative a success. Bangladesh expressed its readiness to contribute to the economic growth and activities in Malaysia by sending more workforce through safe and regular migration channel.
Both sides agreed to seek ways and means to promote cooperation in the fields of Tourism, Culture, Education and Science and Technology.
The two Foreign Secretaries committed to strengthen cooperation in the regional and multilateral forums. Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh stressed that for effective collaboration between Bangladesh and ASEAN, it was important that Bangladesh becomes a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN. On cooperation in the area of Blue Economy, both sides acknowledged the importance of collaboration to enhance deep sea fishing capacity, sea-bed exploration and capacity building and skill development in the field of marine sciences and Blue Economy.
Recent developments in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and the problem related to the Muslim community of Rakhine State were discussed in the meeting. Bangladesh stressed on the need for seeking a comprehensive solution of the problem.
Both side agreed to enhance cooperation in counter terrorism capacity building through training.
Both side agreed to facilitate multiple entry visa for the genuine business men of both the countries.
The Secretary General of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will meet the Foreign Minister A. H Mahmood Ali MP tomorrow, 16 May 2017 at the Foreign Ministry.