Dhaka urges Thimphu to expedite BBIN process


THIMPHU, Bhutan, April 19, 2017 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the Bhutanese government to expedite the process for ratifying the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement and said that this initiative could be adjusted with the environmental concern of Bhutan.

The Bangladesh premier made the call during her bilateral meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay at Royal Banquet Hall of Gyalyong Tshogkhang here yesterday afternoon.

After the meeting, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters.

In response, the Bhutanese Prime Minister said that his country is also committed to the BBIN process and also looking into the matter as how to address the environmental concerns once the connectivity of BBIN initiative becomes effective.

“Bhutan will take care of the matter with the spirit of BBIN once the Environmental concerns are addressed,” the foreign secretary quoting the Bhutanese PM.

Regarding tourism, the Bhutanese Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that they would send a delegation to Bangladesh on how to establish a tourism corridor centering Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata and thus explore the potentials.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina apprised her Bhutanese counterpart about her government’s recent initiative to declare March 25 as the ‘Genocide Day’, and sought support of Bhutan in this regard for getting its international recognition.

The foreign secretary said that the MoUs and agreements signed yesterday between the two countries in sectors like agriculture, avoidance of double taxation, cultural cooperation, use of inland waterways would further facilitate trade and commerce and thus boost the bilateral ties between the two countries.

He said that since Bhutan is one of the countries which recognized Bangladesh on December 6 in 1971, Bangladesh and Bhutan enjoy a special relations.

To further cement this relations, Shahidul said, that the Bhutan has offered to provide a piece of land to Bangladesh for buildings Bangladesh’s own embassy building in Thimphu.

The issues which came up prominently during the bilateral meeting includes boosting trade and commerce between the two countries through forging connectivity.

Besides, the Bhutanese Prime Minister put utmost importance on the bright potentials of exchanging hydropower saying, “Hydropower could be a ‘game changer’ in this region as once the initiative is implemented.”

“Power would be generated in Bhutan and then could be transmitted among the three countries,” he said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina underscored the need for striking balance in the balance of trade between Bangladesh and Bhutan as it is now tilted in favour of Bhutan.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister also sought FDI from Bangladesh especially in the ICT sector adding that Bangladeshi software company has already came to Bhutan and their experience is good.

Responding to the Bhutanese Prime Minister’s request to address the delay in land customs at Burimari Landport to expedite the trade and commerce, Sheikh Hasina assured that her government would take necessary steps in this regard.

Mentioning the establishment of Health Trust Fund by Bhutan marking the birth anniversary of Bhutanese 4th King, Tobgay sought support and cooperation of Bangladesh in this connection. Sheikh Hasina replied in the positive saying that she would assist Bhutan in this regard.

About the scope of Bangladeshi doctors to work in Bhutan, Tobgay said that once employed, the foreign doctors in Bhutan could get up to maximum $3,000 per month apart from their living expenditure.

“If, the Bangladeshi doctors get encouraged, then they would have the scope to work here in Bhutan,” added the Foreign Secretary.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister informed his Bangladesh counterpart that some 123 medical students of Bhutan are now studying in Bangladesh with half and full scholarship and such facility could be extended further to the Bhutanese students.

In response, Sheikh Hasina said that special seats could be kept for the Bhutanese medical students wishing to study at Rangpur Medical College alongside the other medical institutions of the country.

Sheikh Hasina also thanked the Bhutanese Prime Minister for organizing such international conference on Autism.

The Bhutanese prime minister expressed satisfaction over the renewal of the agreement on cultural exchange between the two countries.

“Through it the cultural exchange between Bhutan and Bangladesh would be expanded further,” he said.

When the Bangladesh premier raised the issue of fibre optic connectivity between Bangladesh and Bhutan via India, Tshering Tobgay proposed for a discussion between the three countries to this end.

The Bhutanese prime minister called for sub-regional water management jointly, especially three countries – Bhutan, Bangladesh and India.

While talking about the BIMSTEC, he said there is a huge potentiality of the regional grouping. We strongly support the BIMSTEC and through it sub-regional cooperation could be further strengthened.

The Bangladesh premier reiterated her offer to Bhutan to use Chittagong and Mongla ports as well as Syedpur Airport for increase its trade and commerce.

Later, the Bangladesh prime minister attended a banquet at Royal Banquet Hall to be hosted in her honour by the Bhutanese premier.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now in Bhutan on a three-day state visit to attend an international conference on autism.