First FOC held 3 documents finalized with Brunei


Staff Reporter
Bangladesh and Brunei on Sunday agreed to sign three finalized bilateral documents to strengthen ties between the two countries.
All the finalised instruments are likely to be signed during a VVIP-level visit next year, said an official.
The issues were discussed broadly at the first ever Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between the Foreign Secretaries of Bangladesh and Brunei held at the State guesthouse Meghna in the city.
Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque led the Bangladesh delegation while Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Hajah Siti Norishan Haji Abdul Ghafor led the Brunei side.
The agreed bilateral documents are memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Cultural and Arts Cooperation; MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Youth and Sports; and MoU on Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Agriculture.
Brunei has also agreed for an "exchange of notes" for the exemption of visa requirements for holders of dip-lomatic and official passports as well as expediting the proposed draft MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Fisheries and Air Services Agreement by Bangladesh.
In order to increase bilateral trade, both countries emphasized on the need to explore new areas and to consider the possibility of preferential arrangement and regular consultative mechanism.
Brunei has expressed keen interest to invest in Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) to for interme-diary products which will be taken to Brunei for further value addition for exporting to Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other world markets.
They have shown interest to invest in Bangladeshi hotel business.
Bilateral trade received a major focus in the Consultation as the two-way trade between Bangladesh and Brunei has shown an upward trend in the recent years.
The both sides, however, agreed that trade volume was far less than existing potentials, said the Foreign Minis-try here.
Brunei has agreed to positively consider working with Bangladesh in various sectors, such as in halal food, oil, gas, power generation, textiles, leather and agro-based industries.
Given the growing demand of energy in Bangladesh, both countries agreed to work on MoU on G2G coopera-tion involving the private sectors in the field of energy and power to explore the possibility of technical coop-eration in the exploration of oil and natural gas; cooperation in human resource development and capacity building of energy sector professionals.
At present an estimated 16,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers working in Brunei and the number is expected to go up further, said the Foreign Ministry here.
Both sides expressed keen interest to work together to address expatriate workers' related issues in an integrated manner to make labour migration ethical and sustainable.
Both sides recognized the need for deeper cooperation among the financial institutions to ensure smooth ser-vices for enhanced bilateral trade and investment.
Both sides agreed to maintain defence cooperation and exchanges at various levels and deepen collaboration in areas such as personnel training, exchange of expertise, knowledge sharing between think-tanks, joint exercises and procurement of defence equipment and logistics by Brunei.
Prior to the Foreign Office Consultations the Permanent Secretary met Foreign Minister Ali at the State guest-house Meghna and discussed on further strengthening the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Brunei.
The next foreign office consultations will be held within two years in Brunei.