DHAKA, Dec 22 — Thailand and Bangladeshi Prime Ministers held bilateral talks and have agreed to expand various forms of cooperation to mark 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived in Dhaka on Friday for a two-day visit to boost bilateral trade, investment and cooperation in prospective areas of mutual interests between Thailand and Bangladesh.
Accompanying her is a delegation of some 100 people, at least a third of them members of the business community.
Ms Yingluck on Saturday held “Four-Eye’ talks with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed before both sides had full plenary session at the Bangladeshi’s Prime Minister Office.
Both leaders exchanged congratulations that the two countries have marked the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic ties.
Bilateral trade between Thailand and Bangladesh was worth US$1.2 billion in 2011, a 38 per cent increase from the year earlier.
Ms Yingluck said Thailand wanted to double its two-way trade — export and import — with Bangladesh by 2015 in an effort to boost commerce and investment.
She said there was great potential for further expansion of economic partnership between the two countries. The two nations needed closer cooperation between governments and more importantly between the private sectors.
Ms Yingluck and Sheikh Hasina have agreed to reactivate the existing Thai-Bangladesh Joint Trade Committee (JTC) to foster trade and investment, while the Thai premier has proposed Bangladesh consider Thailand as a gateway to ASEAN while Bangladesh would be a gateway for Thailand to South Asia.
During the talks, Dhaka has expressed interest to buy more rice from Thailand as proposed by Bangkok. The two countries have earlier signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which Bangladesh would buy one million tons of rice from Thailand annually between 2011-2013 and today they agreed to extend the MoU for another three years.
As for connectivity, Ms Yingluck has proposed Thailand and Bangladesh promote both land and sea routes, especially sea linkage through Myanmar-Chittagong, Dawei and Ranong.
She said this route will help boost both economies, reducing transportation costs and saving time.
During Ms Yingluck’s visit, Thailand and Bangladesh signed two MoUs to strengthen their bilateral relationship, which were witnessed by Ms Yingluck and Sheikh Hasina.
The first MoU was to foster regular meetings at the level of foreign secretaries, and the other one to increase cooperation in the field of agriculture between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni signed the agreement with Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.
The MoU on agricultural cooperation was signed by Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Monzur Hossain and Thailand’s Permanent Secretary on Agriculture Chavalit Chookajorn.
The second agreement would encourage institutional cooperation among private companies for the development and expansion of agriculture in the two nations.
Earlier in the day, Ms Yingluck paid tributes to the martyrs of the nation’s 1971 War of Independence at the National Memorial in Savar.
The Thai premier was given a red-carpet reception on Friday evening as she reached Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina received her at the VVIP terminal of the airport. An impressive contingent of the Bangladesh Army presented her the Guard of Honour.