Monday, 24 June, 2024, Reg No- 06
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Importance of Australian FM’s imminent visit to Dhaka  

Published : Monday, 20 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 412

On May 21-22, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is expected to make a significant official visit to Bangladesh to enhance bilateral ties and explore opportunities to further collaboration for regional security, prosperity, and peace. The Australian foreign minister will be accompanied by a small group that includes Michelle Chan, the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades Office of Southeast Asia and Deputy Secretary of the South and Southeast Asia Group. The Australian foreign ministers impending visit will be a sign of the nations dedication to collaborating with the Bangladesh government as well as its deep awareness and rising interest in Bangladesh.

Australia is turning its attention westward, concentrating on the potential in the Indian Ocean, which will increase collaboration with India. The relationship between Bangladesh and Australia, a friendly and neighbouring country of India, has a lot of promise. Bangladesh and other South Asian nations, however, are as valuable and have their potential. Bangladesh can develop as a centre for commerce, investment, and connectivity in the area because of its sizable population and steady economic development. Dhaka and Canberra might have a prosperous partnership now that Bangladeshs GDP per capita has surpassed Indias.

The friendship and trust that Bangladesh and Australia have shared for over 50 years is one of the keystones of Bangladeshs foreign policy. Bangladesh has greatly benefited from Australias quick recognition of its independence in January 1972, its aid in rebuilding the country after the war, and its ongoing socioeconomic support throughout the next decades. Australia is becoming a dependable and powerful strategic cooperation partner for the people of Bangladesh. The partnership has grown into a strong strategic partnership with the support of the public and government at large, mutual trust, and active cooperation. In the context of the current global geopolitical landscape, FM Wongs two-day visit aims to significantly strengthen bilateral ties. It will also determine the future direction of Dhaka-Canberra ties and further strengthen them in the areas of strategic course, bilateral trade, investment, aid for the Rohingya, use of human resources, climate cooperation, and security cooperation.   

During her visit, shes expected to talk about issues including trade and investment promotion, the development of sustainable and renewable energy, the Rohingya crisis, maritime security, technology transfer, and a free and open Indo-Pacific area. In addition to her bilateral meeting with her Bangladeshi colleague Hasan Mahmud, Penny Wong is expected to have a courtesy visit with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Its important to remember that earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his excitement about collaborating with Prime Minister Hasina to fortify their bilateral relationship and together advance peace, prosperity, and security in the area.

The common interests of the Indian Ocean countries in fostering peace, prosperity, and sovereignty in the area were commended by Australian Prime Minister Albanese. He highlighted the shared interests of Australia and Bangladesh in trade, investment, human rights, people smuggling, and Rohingya, underscoring the significance of bilateral and regional collaboration between the two countries. Bangladesh also hopes to secure a peaceful and prosperous Indian Ocean area in the future by advancing the relationship between Australia and Bangladesh to new heights for the benefit of both countries economies and people. Increased bilateral interaction on COVID-19 recovery, investment and services, technology and innovation, and the formation of effective partnerships to address global and regional concerns like climate change, forced migration, and regional security provide enormous opportunities.

About 100,000 Bangladeshi Diaspora students attend Australian colleges, and the country draws a varied range of skilled migrants and foreign students, including Bangladeshi students. The goal of the two nations commerce and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) is to create new avenues for investment and commerce. To increase bilateral trade and investment, the two nations signed the Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) in 2021. Trade in novel items is facilitated by TIFA, which benefits both nations. Under TIFA, a Joint Working Group was established, with appropriate participation from both nations pertinent sectors and subsectors. Australia has promised that even when Bangladesh leaves the LDC category, it will keep granting Duty-Free Quota-Free (DFQF) access to its exports.

Australia is a supplier of several agricultural and critical items that Bangladesh may import, such as wheat, pulses, wool, and liquefied natural gas. Australia is a better alternative for Bangladesh than the US or Europe since it has a wider range of high-quality items that can be imported swiftly and affordably. Increased trade and investment between the two nations is also very possible, especially in the areas of cotton, minerals, fintech, ITES, education, and skill development.

By providing new items that benefit both economies-such as financial services, education, and skill development-bilateral commerce between the two nations may rise dramatically. Bangladesh may benefit from Australias assistance in the agricultural industry, notably in the areas of food processing, refrigeration technology, and quality control.

For Australia and Bangladesh to have a good and productive partnership, the Rohingya refugee situation must be taken seriously. During her visit, the Australian minister is probably going to check on the situation at the Rohingya camp. With an eye towards the eventual return of the forcibly displaced Myanmar citizens who are being housed in Bangladesh, Bangladesh requests Australias assistance in bringing attention to the Rohingya problem worldwide. Australia has pledged to back Bangladeshs efforts to repatriate its Rohingya population and to keep providing humanitarian aid to them. To offer necessities including food, water, housing, education, and health care to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Myanmar, Australia has committed to provide $153 million between 2023 and 2025. Because of the close relationship between Australias security concerns and the marine refugee flows across the Indo-Pacific, the Coxs Bazar camp might be a source of regional instability.

Wongs visit will thus affect the growth of commercial ties between the two nations as well as regional peace, stability, and security. Bangladesh is attempting to explore extensive areas of collaboration with Australia to strengthen its economic ties. It is anticipated that a series of high-level political and commercial visits between the two countries will further solidify their political and economic ties in the months to come.

The writer is a student, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka

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