‘Bangladesh A Major Stakeholder in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean’

Bay of Bengal || Photo: Collected

Bay of Bengal || Photo: Collected

Rear Admiral (retd) Md Khurshed Alam, the secretary of the Maritime Affairs Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated on Monday that Bangladesh is a significant player in the larger Indo-Pacific region due to its strong location in the Bay of Bengal area.

Despite the unfriendly and exclusive geopolitical possibilities in the area, he stated, "for Bangladesh, the region has special significance from our domestic consideration."

At a conference titled "Indo-Pacific-Canada's Strategy and Bangladesh's Outlook: A Deeper Look into the Key Areas," Alam stated that Bangladesh has grown to be a significant maritime power in the area.

Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Lilly Nicholls, among others, spoke at the seminar and had an in-depth discussion on the Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy and Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific Outlook to identify areas of convergence.

The seminar, jointly hosted by the South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance (SIPG) and the High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh focused on Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy vis-a-vis Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific Outlook, identified possible coherences between the strategy and the outlook, and ways to further strengthen partnerships between Bangladesh and Canada in light of common shared values and interests between the two countries.

Khurshed Alam said Bangladesh made it clear to the world that currently it is a significant player in the Indo-Pacific region and also a major stakeholder in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific Outlook, the MAU secretary said Bangladesh envisions a free, open, peaceful, secure, and inclusive Indo-Pacific for the shared prosperity for all.

Bangladesh considers stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific to be a “crucial factor” in realizing the country’s Vision 2041. Being a littoral state of the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh aims to be a modern, knowledge-based, developed country by 2041.

Khurshed Alam said there is no inconsistency in the Outlook and there is no departure from the previous position.

“Every country needs us as we also need them,” he said, adding that Bangladesh’s move was not criticized, rather welcomed.

He observed that the Indo-Pacific has become an area of fierce strategic competition and economic dominance.

The MAU Secretary said Bangladesh has been open to expanding cooperation in non-traditional security areas as many of the issues cannot be addressed without international cooperation.

However, when it comes to traditional security cooperation, he said, Bangladesh always maintained a cautious position.

The overarching objective of Canada's IPS is to promote a fair, open, stable, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, said the Canadian High Commissioner.

"It will also protect Canadian interest in the process," she said, adding that Canada is willing to collaborate with its partners.

Bangladesh is the key part of Canada's just launched Indo-Pacific strategy and the North American country thinks it will usher in a new era of making it a long-term significant partner in the region, and Bangladesh is a key part of that strategy.

As the world treads through a changing geopolitical and geostrategic trajectory, Canada and Bangladesh continue to focus on their shared values and expand their areas of cooperation.

In this course of changing world realities, Canada’s desire to forge stronger economic ties with Bangladesh is not only welcome but deeply reciprocated, according to the concept note of the seminar.

This makes the Bangladesh-Canada partnership more important than ever before.

Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy offers a comprehensive framework for the Government of Canada’s engagement in the region over the next decade.

The first five years of the strategy include new initiatives and investments of almost $2.3 billion.

In 2026, the Government of Canada will return with an update that will cover initiatives and resources for the years 2027-2032.

The Indo-Pacific area, which includes more than 40 economies, is expanding at the fastest rate in the globe.

After the United States, it is Canada's second-largest regional export market and trading partner; in 2021, two-way commerce in agri-food and seafood was $26.5 billion, or 24 percent of all exports from Canada in this industry.

More over one-third of all global economic activity and 65% of all people live in the Indo-Pacific region.

Two-thirds of the world's middle class will reside there by 2030, and by 2040, the area will provide more than half of the world's economic output.

Source: UNB

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