BD offers Mongla
Staff Correspondent: Turkish state-owned LPG manufacturer and exporter Aygaz wants to use the Chattogram Port but Bangladesh has suggested it use the Mongla Port instead. Turkey also wants to invest in a joint venture LPG plant along the River Karnaphuli and set up a modern hospital with an area of 2.5 lakh square metres in or near Dhaka.
Further, the country has expressed interest in importing more goods from Bangladesh to triple bilateral trade. To this end, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has promised to remove the existing barriers to imports.
Bangladesh is preparing to sign agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) on these issues during the Turkish president’s forthcoming visit to Dhaka. The old agreements signed with the country will also be streamlined during that visit.
Erdo?an is expected to visit Bangladesh in March on the occasion of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary and the D-8 conference in Dhaka.
An inter-ministerial meeting was held on 6 January this year, chaired by Foreign Secretary (West) Ambassador Shabbir Ahmad Chowdhury, to discuss various issues, including signing bilateral agreements and MoUs to be signed during the possible visit to Dhaka by the Turkish president.
According to sources at the meeting, Turkey has proposed separate agreements and MoUs to develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh and increase the capacity of the quality control body Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI).
Turkey is keen to sign a number of such agreements and MoUs on education, culture and development cooperation during Erdo?an’s visit. However, Dhaka wants to proceed cautiously so that religious fundamentalism does not spread in Bangladesh through cooperation in these areas.
Officials of the Ministry of Shipping told the meeting said that the Chittagong Port Authority had objected to allowing Aygaz to use Chattogram Port. Therefore, Dhaka will propose that Turkey consider using Mongla Port instead of Chattogram Port.
During Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen’s visit to Turkey in September last, Erdo?an called for boosting Bangladesh-Turkey trade to $3 billion, foreign ministry officials said at the meeting.
Erdo?an wanted a list of exportable goods from Bangladesh by identifying the barriers to exports of Bangladeshi products to the Turkish market.
The list that Bangladesh has already sent to Turkey includes the names of Bangladesh’s major export products including ready-made garments, jute and jute products plus medicine.
Sikder Bodiruzzaman, director general of the foreign ministry’s Eastern Europe and CIS sub-division, told the meeting that the Turkish government wants to build a modern hospital with an area of 250,000 square metres in or near Dhaka.
“That is why the country wants land from Bangladesh. The foreign minister has already given a DO letter to the state minister for housing and public works to allocate the land,” he added.
Mohammad Shawkat Ali, joint secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, said arrangements were being made to allocate necessary land from Uttara, Purbachal or Jhilmil projects.
“In addition to land acquisition, Dhaka will offer Turkey a five-acre railway hospital in Dhaka’s Kamalapur on a partnership basis,” he continued.
Turkey has proposed to sign an Agreement on Development Co-operation with Bangladesh.
The agreement would involve the Turkish development partner Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TICA). The company wants to open an office in Dhaka. The agreement can be signed if the home ministry agrees.
Turkey also wants to sign the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Education with Bangladesh. Under the agreement, the Turkish government will provide scholarships to Bangladeshi students.
Dhaka is emphasising the need to consider the issue of religious fundamentalism in the student selection process for scholarships.
Turkey has also proposed signing the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to return undocumented Bangladeshi migrants to the country during Erdo?an’s visit. However, Bangladesh has not agreed to this.
In this regard, Andalib Elias, director general of the Western Europe sub-division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the meeting that Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) signed an SOP in 2017 to repatriate