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Bangladesh And Nepal: Huge Potential For Both? – OpEd

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Bangladesh and Nepal  are situated in South Asia geographically. They share a common regional platform such as BIMTEC, SAARC. There are some harmonies between Bangladesh and Bhutan in sphere of mutual interest, shared history, culture.

Nepal recognized Bangladesh as a sovereign state in 1971. Then Bangladesh Built up ties with Nepal. The bondage and relations between Bangladesh and Nepalese started from that time. Bangladesh was and is very interested regarding Nepalese culture, their trends of agricultural development, extraction of stone, production of hydro electricity, tourism etc 

The first Bangla poetry ( Charjapad) was discovered in the library of Nepal’s King by a famous linguistic Harproshad Shastri. From the poetry, we able to know that Nepal-Bengal ties is eternal. Connection was started by the Buddhist priests who was known as Charjaguru. It is proved that Bangladesh-Nepal’s historical linkage was opened up. 

Now Nepal is a known South Asian modern state as a whole. The distance between Nepal and Bangladesh was very short and Indian Chicken Neck ( Siliguri corridor) divided Bangladesh and Nepal geographically. But both are united spiritually.

There are many potentials waiting for Bangladesh and Nepal. Bangladesh’ economy is booming day by day. It is going to be a South Asian super star. Current ruling party, Bangladesh Awami league is trying to develop the country. By 2041, Bangladesh would be developed. It is confirmed. 

Nepal is also a prosperous country. It’s people are peace lover and peace keeper, hard worker. The people of Bangladesh share the same characteristics. Bangladesh and Nepal both can play to develop the standard of their people by connecting with each other.

Nepal is a huge source of hydro electricity. Nepal can provide it Bangladesh to fulfill the demands of Bangladesh. Bangladesh needs more electricity to move it’s factories. Bangladesh is a power hungry. There are many industries and factories in Bangladesh. The have need electricity. So Nepal can play the role to boost up the economic strength of Bangladesh. Nepal will be also benefitted. It’s electricity market would grow up. For this, the transmission  line of electricity is needed. Bangladesh-Nepal- India have to work to start it as soon as possible. India will be benefitted. On other hands, as a South Asian big brother, it should play it’s role to boost up Nepal-Bangladesh ties and trades. Trilateral trades scheme can be initiated along the border markets to ensure the trilateral mutual interest. Bangladesh will be able to export its ‘surplus’ electricity to Nepal during the dry season.

In June, Bangladesh’s state minister for energy said that Bangladesh has decided to import around 700 megawatts (MW) of hydropower from Nepal to meet its future electricity demand. It’s Foreign Minister stated that Bangladesh, Nepal and India are on the final stage of a deal allowing Bangladesh to import hydropower from the Himalayan state during the Visit of Nepal’s president to Bangladesh in March to mark the birth centenary of Bangladesh’ founder father Bangabandhu and Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of it’s independence from Pakistan. However, we expect that the hydropower exchange will be able to meet the demands of both parts people.

According to Bangladeshi Media, Bangladesh signed an MoU with Nepal in 2018 to oversee investment, development and trade in hydroelectricity between the two countries. Under this arrangement, Bangladesh will import up to 9,000 MW of hydropower from Nepal by 2040. Bangladesh has also been in favor of investing in Nepal’s hydropower sector. 

Bangladesh can export it’s apparel and fertilizer to Nepal. Some Nepalese media reported  few days ago, A total of 52 thousand metric tonnes of urea imported fertiliser from Bangladesh arrived in Nepal in July.

Tourism, tackling Covid-19  , counter terrorism approach, microfinance of Bangladesh in Nepal,  exchange of expertise for training, education sectors are some sectors in which there have chance to work  Bangladesh and Nepal both can utilize these sector with each other. Agro products and medicine of Bangladesh can be exported to Nepal. 

Bangladesh’s Walton company is working in Nepal. International NGO, Brac and other NGos can play role to develop the mass education and health sectors in Nepal.

Bangladesh signed Preferential Trade Agreement with Bhutan on December 06, 2920. Now for Nepal case,  Preferential Trade Agreement is also at the final stage and is likely to be signed soon to get duty free access of product of both parties for the welfare of people  As an addition to the Protocol of the Nepal-Bangladesh Transit Agreement signed in 1976, a letter of exchange has been signed between the two countries to include Rohanpur-Singhabad Rail Link.

Nepal is also interested in using Chattogram, Mongla and Paira Sea ports because it is a landlocked country. Bangladesh has agreed to work on the modalities for this during the visit of Nepali President. India has to play it’s role as a regional giant to mediate Bangladesh-Nepal relation for the trilateral interest.

Nepal has also expressed its interest to use inland waterways of Bangladesh. Besides, Nepal is also interested in using the Saidpur Airport for direct flights with Viratnagar. Bangladesh is open to it. We want to facilitate connectivity. 

Bangladesh-India must have to work mutually to give the access of Nepal into seaport access. Bangladesh can be a open source for connectivity with Nepal for their mutual interest. Nepal has rights to deal trade with outer parts in the world for the betterment for it’s people. And Bangladesh. Government and people are committed to express the solidarity of Nepalese brother for their geographical reality. BIMSEC must have role to accelerate it.

 and India have already agreed to sign passenger protocol under the BBIN. Nepal is expected to give nod to it at the soonest BBIN connectivity project can not be started because of Bhutan cause. However, India-Nepal-Bangladesh have to work together to start the alternative. Connectivity is the synonym of development. So Nepal and Bangladesh have to be connected through India. India should have a leading role for the betterment of the people in the region. 

For implementing the Motor Vehicle Agreement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, options of some new routes other than the existing ones are being explored.

India, Nepal and Bangladesh should have holistic diplomatic approach to bolster the connectivity project. There are many gains for all parties, there are no loss in this regard.

There are many potentials between Nepal and Bangladesh. It is true. So it is high time for both parties to utilize it for the maximization of both interest.

*MD Pathik Hasan, Dhaka based NGO worker, Freelance writer.

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