Thursday, September 16, 2010

West Africa mission to explore expanded links

Bangladesh has launched an ambitious process for expanded links with West Africa with a high-profile delegation exploring the region's huge businesses and agriculture potentials on an initial mission there, foreign Fecretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said.

"This (nine-day) West Africa Mission was the first such step under the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's special initiative to explore potentials of expanded links with Africa and Latin America (and) we received a massive response," he said at a press briefing at the ministry.

Quayes led the six-member delegation that included prime minister's private secretary Nazrul Islam Khan and representatives of commerce ministry as they visited Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Kenya from August 24 to September 2 while it also planned to visit several Latin American nations later this year with same objectives.

The development came as Bangladesh is desperately trying to diversify the export basket as well as destinations of its products while the top foreign ministry bureaucrat said they found "extraordinary" potentials of cooperation in agriculture sector alongside the trade relations with the vast "unexplored" western part of Africa.

Khan, who also spoke at the briefing, said besides being a very big possible destination of Bangladesh products, the West Africa was also a very prospective region for Bangladeshi farmers with its huge uncultivated lands and inexperienced agriculture work force.

"Bangladesh may not directly export its manpower in typical manner because of the complicated religious relations in the region but we found the public representatives and government leaders there to be highly interested to get the traditionally experienced Bangladeshi farmers to explore their agriculture sector," said the prime minister's private secretary.

The foreign secretary said the Bangladesh delegation initially proposed contract farming in West African countries in initial stage under which Bangladeshi farmers would demonstrate the cultivation process also engaging the African workers for experience sharing and knowledge transfer and added that the idea was widely welcomed.

"Under the proposal, the West African farms will keep parts of the production for domestic consumption exporting the rests to Bangladesh," he said.

Quayes said the western African countries were also a lucrative region for trade relations with its rich cotton while Bangladesh could eye the sector to establish its backward link industry for the readymade garments industry to reap huge benefits including the duty free access to the export market within the purview of international trade regime.

"This may save 16 to 32 percent cost of the Bangladesh's readymade garments industry," Quayes said.

He said their nine-day mission also found West Africa for Bangladesh's products including pharmaceuticals and fruit juices while Bangladesh could also engage in joint venture projects with jute, exporting the fibre there for value addition or production of jute products like sacks.

Quayes said they also proposed supply of pharmaceutical products for the widely run Free Friday Clinics in the region to familiarize the Bangladeshi drugs to promote eventually their export in the prospective new destinations alongside the existing 72 other countries across the world.

He said West Africa was already a destination of Bangladesh products like frit juices, footwear, sacks and bags and iron chains but the figures of volume and export earning were "erratic" instead of continual growth because of for want of a planned initiative for the trade links.

Outlining the plans to develop the ties, Quayes said Dhaka would initially appoint honorary consul generals in the West African nations to work as conduits for intensified business relations ahead of setting up permanent missions there while the private sector in Bangladesh would be encouraged to explore their market their own.

The foreign said the Bangladeshi peacekeepers in the UN blue helmet missions in troubled African nations and the subsequent interventions of the Bangladeshi NGOs like BRAC created a very positive image of the country paving ways for expanded ties between South Asian Bangladesh and the West African countries.

For More and Daily News at your doorstep, you can subscribe to our Atom feeds

African News Online - Africa News

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails