PM’s Visit to France: Focus on trade ties, defence cooperation
Bangladesh wants to develop political and trade relations with France while the latter is keen to improve defence cooperation with Dhaka.
The matters will be discussed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's five-day visit to Paris which will begin today.
Hasina, who is going to Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex, will hold bilateral meetings with both of them separately.
At a briefing, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said the prime minister's engagement in Paris would be very "extensive and engaging".
A diplomatic source said three deals on security, trade and business are likely to be made with France.
"We are seeking to improve our political relationship with France, as well as Europe. France is an important country in the European Union and G-20. It is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council," said a foreign ministry official.
Bangladesh has become an important country on the global stage, he said.
"We are not an aid-dependent country anymore. We are also contributing to global development and policy. We also have issues, including the Rohingya crisis, that need to be addressed globally. So, we are striving for more global engagement. We need political allies," he said.
Besides, Bangladesh is seeking more trade partnership with France. Bangladesh's export to France was worth about € 2.76 billion last year and import from France was about € 240 million.
"As Bangladesh is focusing on economic diplomacy, we would seek to export more commodities and bring investments," a diplomatic source in Paris told this correspondent yesterday.
At a briefing on Oct 30 in Dhaka, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said many French companies want to invest in Bangladesh, and there are interests from both sides to boost trade relations.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said a number of French ministers and lawmakers and heads of French companies were scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Paris.
On the other hand, France will propose selling defence equipment including Rafale fighter planes, a diplomatic source said without going into further details.
According to French newspaper La Tribune, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly during a meeting with PM Hasina in Dhaka early March last year had proposed to sell Rafale manufactured by Dassault Aviation.
"This contact between Florence Parly and the Bangladeshi politicians is the beginning of a long process of discussions initiated between France and Bangladesh," the newspaper reported on March 10 last year.
Florence Parly also spoke about French strategy in the Indo-Pacific region and prospects for defence cooperation. In 10 years until 2018, French manufacturers exported goods worth 25.7 million euros to Bangladesh.
The latest visit by Hasina is likely to yield concrete decisions regarding the defence purchase, the source added.