Industry Desk: South Africa is planning to open its embassy to expand economic relations with Bangladesh and enhance its presence in the global arena.
“We’ve a political agenda and decision that we’ll have to open an embassy in Dhaka,” said Ambassador Dr Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director-General for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East of DIRCO, South Africa.
He further said, “At the present time, South Africa is relooking at our global presence. I think after 25 years of democracy and having established our presence globally, it’s a time to revitalise it. I can assure you that if we open any new office in Asia, it’ll be in Bangladesh.”
Sooklal was speaking at a lecture titled “Commemorating the Silver Jubilee of Diplomatic Relations between South Africa and Bangladesh organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) at its auditorium in the city yesterday.
Acknowledging that Bangladeshis are facing difficulties now in having their visa applications processed from Colombo, he said they will shift this responsibility to New Delhi soon. “But more importantly, South Africa is in a very advanced process of introducing e-visa within the next year to alleviate much of challenges you’re facing now in terms of getting visa.” Sooklal said Bangladesh and South Africa can work together in the identified priority areas that will be of mutual benefit to the two nations.
“South Africa values its relations with Bangladesh and recognises that there’s much for us to learn from you in achieving socioeconomic goals within set timeframes. Due to socioeconomic achievement of the present government, Bangladesh is now recognised worldwide as a development miracle,” he observed.
Lauding Bangladesh’s astounding economic growth, the diplomat said Bangladesh and South Africa have enormous potential to expand economic relations. “South Africa and Bangladesh have complementarities and comparative advantages which can be exploited for mutual benefit, particularly in the trade, investment, technical exchanges in information and communications technology and skills development fields.”
Mentioning that their country took its non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council in January this year, he said they will promote the maintenance of international peace and security through advocating for peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue.
“We note with concern the humanitarian disaster unfolding on your borders with Myanmar. South Africa commends the efforts of Bangladesh government for assisting these vulnerable persons and call for a peaceful and suitable resolution to this matter,” Sooklal said.
Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said Bangladesh and South Africa are working not only at the bilateral level but also at the multinational level. “We’ve been cooperating in the Commonwealth, or in NAM or in IORA.”
He said Bangladesh has been strengthening its relations with South Africa not only by visiting on a regular basis and seeing how people get connected but also in terms of setting up missions. “This year we set up two missions there, and we’re looking forward to setting up more missions in Africa.”
The foreign secretary focused on working together in the global arena apart from increasing trade and business as the world is passing through a difficult time. “We’re facing a fundamental transformation in our global architecture without having any major war.”
“This is for the first time we yet to see any major war at the global level. But we see transformations are happening not in terms of geopolitics and also in terms of economy,” he observed.
Under the changing global and regional dynamics, Shahidul Haque said, there is a need to work for solidifying the bilateral relations and find new avenues for deepening cooperation between the two nations.
“We’re looking forward to deepening and widening our relationship with not only South Africa, but also all the African countries. We know that some of our traditional partners are slowing down in terms of their political and economic activities. In Asia and in Africa, we need to work together to create a better world for us,” he added.