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Transcript of opening statement by External Affairs Minister at the 5th India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee Meeting (February 08, 2019)

February 09, 2019

Excellency,

I am delighted to welcome you all today for the fifth edition of the Joint Consultative Commission Meeting. Just one month after the formation of new government led by Her Excellency Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

We value your presence here. As a sign of the priority you attach to our partnership especially the fact that you have chosen to make India a destination for your first visit in your current capacity.

I look forward to working closely with you as a partner and as a friend.

Excellency,

We see the JCC process not only as a means to take stock of the progress achieved recently in our bilateral cooperation agenda but also as an opportunity to set in place a forward looking vision for the next five years.

Our goals should be to set ambitious goals for our system to reach in a short term so that our friendship remains a model for good neighborly relations across the world.

In this context I want to reiterate that India stands in full support of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s developmental agenda. We remain ready to provide maximum possible support since a prosperous, secure and progressive Bangladesh is in India’s direct national interest.

This is why our government was able to settle long standing bilateral issues including on our land boundary this is also the reason that we believe all pending issues can also be similarly brought to amicable solutions.

Excellency,

I wish to underline a few fundamental points in my opening remarks.

First and foremost, the bedrock of our partnership is trust and mutual understanding. This is natural as our relationship was forged by your liberation war.

Going forward it is essential that we continue to deepen our partnership in security including by deepening ties in defence, increasing our cooperation against terrorists groups and others who seek to undermine the founding values of Bangladesh by ensuring a peaceful, stable and settled border which is well secured.

Similarly close economic cooperation in support of Bangladesh rapid economic development and creation of cross-border infrastructure links both in energy and transport to support economic development in both countries is a fundamental aspect of our partnership.

It helps that our nations are today the fastest growing economies in the world. We are proud that Bangladesh is our largest development partner accounting for 30% of our concessional trade. We are also pleased that our credit terms for Bangladesh are uniquely concessional. Our grant in aid projects and our credit lines are designed to support Bangladesh aspirations of becoming a middle income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041.

Excellency,

We also aim to help realize Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s goal of reestablishing pre 1965 physical connectivity as well as the spirit of our well connected, closely integrated neighborhood.

Greater cooperation in the energy sector, in building roads, railways, ports and inland waterways and in using such connectivity for mutual benefit will create jobs, reduce costs and enhance mobility for both of us.

In this context we are proud that as many as 90 bilateral agreements have been signed since our Prime Minister’s visit to your beautiful country in 2015. These also cover new and high technology areas for the first time.

Finally, Excellency, we need to broaden our partnership to ensure that people to people ties are developed and our private sector and our State governments enhance cooperation in a manner that compliments the efforts of our two Union Governments. This will ensure that the widest possible number of stakeholders are invested in the best possible ties between us. Our efforts to create unprecedented transportation connectivity including in air services, expanding railway and bus services, and simplifying the process of obtaining visas, together with the creation of new economic zones for Indian businesses to invest in Bangladesh, will create a new and broader base for our partnership.

Before I invite you, to make your opening remarks, Excellency, I want to reiterate our government’s commitment to placing the partnership with Bangladesh as our highest priority. As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said, India-Bangladesh are at a Sonali Adhyaya- A Golden chapter. I trust your visit enables us to ensure that our relations are always golden.

Thank you, Excellency.

Disclaimer: This is an approximate transcription of Speech.

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