Bangladesh, Singapore can complement each other: PM

Kalerkantho Online   

12 March, 2018 12:59 PM

Bangladesh, Singapore can complement each other: PM

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Bangladesh and Singapore are at different levels of development, but can complement each other in their pursuit of economic growth, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said.

She said: "Singapore has the capital, advanced technology and know-how, while Bangladesh can offer a large, young and educated workforce."

She made the remarks on Monday, the second day of an official visit which aims to forge more business opportunities between the two countries.

She further said: "Singapore continues to be a favourite destination for Bangladeshi workers. I hope that Singapore will continue to provide them with a decent work atmosphere."

"These comparative advantages may be harnessed to our mutual benefit," Hasina said in her toast speech at the Istana, where she was hosted to lunch by her Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.

She also noted that Bangladesh and Singapore share a similar outlook on many issues of global concern.

"Our positions are based on a deeper understanding of, and respect for, each other's values, principles, and approaches," said PM Hasina, adding that Bangladesh hopes to forge deeper cooperation with Asean during Singapore's term at the regional group's helm.

Lee meanwhile paid tribute to how rich cultural links between Bangladesh and Singapore have reinforced their longstanding friendship.

He noted that writer Rabindranath Tagore - the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the composer of Bangladesh's national anthem - had visited Singapore in the 1920s, and written about the region.

He added: "These strong people-to-people linkages form a key basis for our multi-faceted relationship."

Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged that Bangladesh and Singapore's strategic locations - with Singapore situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and Bangladesh located in the heart of South Asia - facilitate the flow of people, goods, and investment.

The two countries should do more together, he added, noting that Singapore-based companies are keen on the growing Bangladeshi market.

Sembcorp is one of the largest investors in Bangladesh's energy sector, with over US$1.1 billion invested in power plants, while PSA is interested in exploring opportunities at Chittagong Port, the busiest seaport on the Bay of Bengal's coastline.

A slew of agreements will be signed during the visit, which Madam Hasina expects will to "usher in a new era of economic cooperation between our two countries".

Earlier in the day, both leaders witnessed the inking of two agreements to boost air connectivity between the countries and ease the market entry process for Singapore companies looking to venture into Bangladesh, one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore signed a pact with Bangladesh's Public-Private Partnership Authority to help Singapore companies participate directly in public-private partnership infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, which has over the last decade seen a strong average GDP growth of 6.3 percent.

As the country develops, demand for infrastructure solutions - especially in power, energy, transport and logistics, and ports - has surged, with the Bangladeshi government this year announcing a 38 and 44 percent increase in the budgets for transport and power respectively.

Singapore infrastructure companies have been gaining traction in Bangladesh, such as Sembcorp, which has a power plant in the Sirajganj district, and Sinenergy, which is developing a solar farm in Sutiakhali.

Meanwhile a second pact signed today will see the airlines of Singapore and Bangladesh operate more passenger and cargo services between and beyond the countries.

Four other agreements to step up business and technological cooperation between them will be signed on Tuesday at the Bangladesh-Singapore Forum, where Sheikh Hasina is expected to make a vigorous pitch on the economic opportunities available in Bangladesh.

In the morning, PM Hasina received a ceremonial welcome at the Istana, where she also called on Singapore President Halimah Yacob.

Input: straitstimes