Narinjara News

Dhaka, Feb 26


Burma- Bangladesh agreements on business sectors are still far from being realized

 

Burma’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win is the first diplomat to visit Bangladesh since the ousting of former Prime Minister Gen Khin Nyunt, who is now under house arrest.

 

Nyan Win began a three day official visit to Bangladesh yesterday, accompanied by a number of Burma’s military officials, including the Political Department and Assistant Director of the Southwest Asia Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Burma, said a Bangladesh official report.

 

Since the Bangladesh National Party took over power in 2001, high-ranking officials from both of the neighboring countries have made a number of trips in order to promote relations.

 

Burma’s military head, Senior Than Shwe made a visit to Bangladesh in 2003, and the Bangladeshi Prime Minister also paid Burma a visit in March 2002.

 

Burma’s former Prime Minister, Gen Khin Nyunt also made a historical trip to Bangladesh in April of last year, where he ceremoniously laid a stone for the Friendship Bridge between Burma and Bangladesh at Ramu, under the Cox’sbazar disrict.

 

During the many trips, the two neighbors signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); an agreement upon several bilateral business issues, including a shipping line on Chittagong and Rangoon, an air line between Rangoon and Dhaka via Chittagong, by Bangladesh Biman airway, border trades, a proposed direct road line and the gas pipe line.

 

Though the shipping line and airline had begun operation two years ago, both business sectors were halted a year later, due to several restrictions imposed by the Burmese authority and a lack of profits in both ventures.

 

According to Orient Express, a Singapore-based shipping company, their shipping line between Rangoon and Chittagong was stopped after half a million US dollars were lost between February and December 2003.

 

Similarly, Biman Airway lost a large amount of money and the airline’s flight to Rangoon from Chittagong was stopped.

 

The agreement on border trade also has not been successful until now and most of the trade done between the two countries is done with the illegal smuggling of goods.

 

The former Burma Prime Minister’s tour to Bangladesh was now 10 months ago, but all agreements made at that time, including the road line construction, are still far away from reality. During Khyin Nyunt’s tour to Bangladesh, the two neighboring countries agreed to form a joint technical and financial taskforce to determine the details for an early implementation of the road line project.

 

Burma’s foreign minister is currently visiting Bangladesh to promote the bilateral issues, including trade, economic cooperation, road communication and repatriation of Burmese Muslim refugees.

 

Though the two neighboring countries currently hope to promote business and trade in the upcoming talks, the dream is still far from being practical as both countries have failed to analyze why past agreements were unsuccessful, even after the completion of the 4 year Bangladesh BNP government’s tenure in Bangladesh, a political analyst on the relations between Bangladesh and Burma was quoted as saying. #

 

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