Bangladesh and the United Kingdom are working together to take their bilateral relations to a new height in future, said a foreign ministry official.
Both the countries want to deepen their ties on all fronts and they are working together to work out strategies for the purpose. Bangladesh and the UK are scheduled to sit in the second strategic dialogue between the two countries in London on Thursday, a diplomatic source said.
The dialogue has already drawn attention as both the countries may devise strategies for political and socio-economic dimensions of their ties that time.
PUS and Head of the Diplomatic Service for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Simon McDonald and Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque will lead their respective sides in the talks.
Representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, Armed Forces Division and commerce, home, education and civil aviation ministries, among others, will join the dialogue, the source added.A high level foreign ministry official said the relation between Bangladesh and the UK is more structured and aged, but now the time is for reviewing the ties.
“We want to take ties to a new height and both the countries will work out strategies for that in the upcoming dialogue,” the official added. Bilateral issues like political affairs, trade and investment, exchanging knowledge and innovation and the repatriation of illegal Bangladeshi nationals in the UK will come up during the dialogue, the official continued.
Over the political affairs, both countries think political communication is vital and they are working to hold talks between their prime ministers next month.
It may note here that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to go to the UK to attend the Commonwealth Summit in April.
Diplomatic sources in Dhaka said after graduating to a middle income country, Bangladesh wants to continue its duty-free privilege it is now enjoying from the UK as a least developed country.
This issue will be discussed in the dialogue and the UK has already assured Bangladesh of retaining the privilege, the sources maintained.
The diplomatic sources also said the UK wants to repatriate illegal Bangladeshis to their homes and Bangladesh has no reservation about the issue.
However, Bangladesh has already inked instrument to take back its illegal nationals from the EU countries and it wants to sign the same instrument with the UK. During the dialogue, Bangladesh will ask for more assistance from the UK to find solutions for the Rohingya crisis, sources confirmed.
The United Kingdom wants to be a part of the development journey of Bangladesh, said British High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake.
Blake recently told reporters that her country is the second biggest foreign investor in Bangladesh and one of its largest development partners.
Over 240 UK companies are operating in different sectors like retail, banking, energy, infrastructure, consultancy and education with leading centres of operation across Bangladesh, she continued.
The UK is also the third single largest export destination for Bangladesh and about half a million Bangladeshi expatriates live in the UK, Blake said.
Citing a number of UK ministers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who recently visited Bangladesh, she said the visits happened as part of the UK’s focus on Bangladesh.
She said the UK is reconsidering its global focus and concentrating more on countries like Bangladesh which are middle-income developing countries aspiring to be a developed nation in 20 years.
The British envoy also said her country will reconnect with its traditional friends through the Commonwealth as the country is exiting from the EU.
The UK wants to work together with Bangladesh on different issues, including trade, connectivity, education, climate change and ocean, she maintained.
The Strategic Dialogue involved a productive exchange on political and bilateral issues, economic and development co-operation, security and defence co-operation and current global issues.
The first ever Bangladesh-UK Strategic Dialogue was held in Dhaka on 28 March, 2017 when both the countries celebrated the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.