May 26, 2024, 2:09 am

Qatar Emir’s BD Visit: A NEW DIMENSION IN BILATERAL RELATIONS

  • Update Time : Monday, April 29, 2024
  • 17 Time View
Photo: Collected

Dr Rashid Askari

The relationship between states is a blend of culture, history, and mutual profitability. Over the years, relations between Bangladesh and Qatar have continued to evolve, thrive, and expand further as a result of mutual interests. On April 22, 2024, the current Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani paid a visit to Dhaka. It is anticipated that the Emir’s arrival would lead to a prosperous mutual future filled with benefits from both sides. The visit of the Emir signifies a great deal in terms of mutual benefit and a spirit of goodwill in bilateral relations.

The relationship between Qatar and Bangladesh dates back to the early days of the 1970s when Bangladesh emerged on the global map. The recognition of Bangladesh by Qatar as an independent state can be found on March 4, 1974 in the wake of the 2nd OIC Summit held in Lahore in February 1974. The visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Qatar in May 2023 was one of the important meetings of the leaders of the two countries that strengthened bilateral ties. The engagement in the Qatar Economic Forum and the fruitful talks with Qatari leaders reinforced mutual relationship and common prospects for future cooperation in trade, investment, and other related fields.

These engagements demonstrated not only the equal vision of the future of shared prosperity and development but also led to desired results in the form of several agreements. One of the most important processes in the contemporary relationship between Bangladesh and Qatar was the signing of a long-term LNG import agreement in June 2023. This agreement illustrated Qatar’s active commitment to providing support for Bangladesh in the sphere of energy security and consumption of natural gas. It helped both countries to create the base for further cooperation in energy sectors and build a prospective and mutually beneficial future. These positive experiences resulted in the recent visit of the Emir, which is a new epoch in the bilateral relationship. Both parties signed ten cooperation documents, which include five agreements and five MoUs. Qatar’s Emir and Bangladesh’s Premier witnessed the signing of the documents. Most of the agreements and memoranda of understanding were related to various sectors covering wide opportunities of Bangladesh-Qatar cooperation.

The five agreements include the agreement on promotion and protection of mutual investments; the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion in regard to taxes in income between Qatar and Bangladesh; cooperation in legal affairs between Bangladesh and State of Qatar; promotion and protection on the principle of reciprocity of investment in the maritime transportation; and the establishment of a Joint Business Council (JBC) between Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI). On the contrary, the five MoUs involve cooperation in the areas of young people and sports, the workforce, Confederate port management, education and scientific research, and cooperation in diplomatic training. From energy and safety to education and commerce, these agreements indicate a shared resolve to work toward common objectives and confront shared difficulties. Qatar’s steadfast support for Bangladesh’s energy industry is a desired outcome of the recent visit.  By pledging to supply LNG up to one million tonnes per annum for the next 15 years, Qatar has proven to be a reliable associate in promoting the energy security of its partner nation. This fill establishes Qatar’s devotion to the nation of Bangladeshi as not just a long-lasting alliance but also a trustworthy contributor to the fulfilment of the area’s vital energy requirements.

Alongside the energy and defence sectors, the investment in Bangladesh’s education sector through several MoUs promises a brighter future for human capital development and capacity building. For example, recently, the government of Bangladesh signed an MoU with the Government of Qatar in March 2023 to provide $1.27 million through a grant by the Qatar Fund for Development to support the Bangladeshi side’s proposals for the education sector. The purpose of investing in this domain is to create educational opportunities, adequate skills, and enterprising capabilities for the youth of Bangladesh. This will help to improve individual lives and ensure a brighter future for the country. Additionally, in terms of strengthening the economy and trade, it is expected that the recent visit will increase the quantum of Bangladesh-Qatar bilateral trade. In this context, several agreements were signed through which Bangladesh is expected to continue increasing the volume of trade and commerce at the earliest. The Special Economic Zones (SEZs) may bring the two countries closer opening up new opportunities for economic growth and sustainable development.

In addition to their bilateral cooperation, the visit also highlighted their commitment to numerous global concerns, including climate change and counterterrorism. In this context, Bangladesh and Qatar have expressed their willingness to continue partnering on regional and global platforms.

The recent visit of the Emir of Qatar to Bangladesh is a landmark event in the sustainable relations of the two countries. As the two nations take steps towards a bright future of mutual prosperity and growth, the outcomes of the visit set the foundation for the strong and lasting nature of their cooperation. With a focus on collaboration, learning, and insight, Bangladesh and Qatar will embrace their opportunities and challenges, ensuring that the next generations of the two nations enjoy peace, growth, and opportunity.

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The writer is a distinguished academic and former Vice Chancellor of Islamic University Bangladesh

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