Bangladesh and Brunei on Sunday agreed to sign three finalised bilateral documents to strengthen ties between the two countries.
All the finalised instruments were likely to be signed during a VVIP-level visit next year, said an official.
The issues were discussed broadly at the first ever Foreign Office Consultations between the foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and Brunei held at the state guesthouse Meghna in the city.
Foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque led the Bangladesh delegation while permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Hajah Siti Norishan Haji Abdul Ghafor led the Brunei side.
The agreed bilateral documents comprised a memorandum of understanding on cultural and arts cooperation, a memorandum on cooperation in the field of youth and sports and a memorandum on scientific and technical cooperation in agriculture.
Brunei also agreed to an ‘exchange of notes’ for the exemption of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic and official passports as well as expediting the proposed draft memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of fisheries and air services agreement by Bangladesh.
In order to increase bilateral trade, both countries emphasised the need for exploring new areas and considering the possibility of preferential arrangement and regular consultative mechanism.
Brunei expressed keen interest to invest in Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority for intermediary products which would be taken to Brunei for further value addition for export to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other world markets.
They showed an interest to invest in the Bangladeshi hotel business.
Bilateral trade received a major focus at the consultation as the two-way trade between Bangladesh and Brunei had shown an upward trend in the recent years.
Both sides, however, agreed that trade volume was far less than existing potentials allowed for, said the foreign ministry in Dhaka.
Brunei agreed to positively consider working with Bangladesh in various sectors, such as production of halal food, oil, gas, power generation, textiles, leather and agro-based industries.
Given the growing demand of energy in Bangladesh, both countries agreed to work on the memorandum on G2G cooperation involving the private sectors in the field of energy and power to explore the possibility of technical cooperation in the exploration of oil and natural gas, cooperation in human resource development and capacity building of energy sector professionals.
At present, an estimated 16,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers worked in Brunei and the number was expected to rise, said the foreign ministry in Dhaka.
Both sides expressed a keen interest to work together to address expatriate workers’ related issues in an integrated manner to make labour migration ethical and sustainable.
They recognised the need for deeper cooperation among the financial institutions to ensure smooth services for enhanced bilateral trade and investment.
They agreed to maintain defence cooperation and exchanges at various levels and deepen collaboration in areas such as personnel training, exchange of expertise, knowledge sharing between think-tanks, joint exercises and procurement of defence equipment and logistics by Brunei.
Prior to the Foreign Office Consultations, the permanent secretary met foreign minister Ali at the state guesthouse Meghna where further strengthening of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Brunei were discussed.
The next foreign office consultations will be held in two years in Brunei.
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