Excellency Dr. Momen, my friends from Bangladesh,
A very warm welcome to you Excellency to this 7th Joint Consultative Commission meeting. And, it is really very good to see you so soon after our last meeting in Guwahati. I think that was really something that both of us were able to demonstrate in many ways, outside Delhi and outside our Capitals, how good our relationship is.
In fact, Excellency, it is our frequent meetings which underline our unique friendship. And of course, the 50th year of our ties has been particularly momentous, with both our President and our Prime Minister visiting Bangladesh on the 50th Bijoy Diwas and on your 50th National Day. And we have actually marked "Maitree Diwas” in 18 cities worldwide, which is something very unique apart from New Delhi and Dhaka.
Our ties today reflect the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We are truly at a Shonali Adhyaya.
Today Bangladesh is our largest development partner, it is our largest trade partner in the region; it is our largest visa operation overseas. And that really underlines every aspect of our cooperation. And we in turn, are your largest export destination in Asia. I am glad to see that your exports have doubled to USD 2 billion this year.
Excellency, we have also jointly overcome the pandemic. Whether it was vaccine cooperation, whether it was the oxygen express, whether it was medical Oxygen plants, supplies of medicines and life-saving drugs that we gave to each other, our shared fight against Covid-19 has been exemplary.
There have been other landmarks this year that we should recognize. These include launch of the trailer of the jointly-produced biopic, ‘Mujib: The Making of a Nation’, at the Cannes Film Festival; the Bangabandhu Chair at Delhi University; the Bangabandhu-Bapu digital exhibition; the improvement in project delivery and disbursement; the inauguration of the Maitri Bridge over River Feni; the start of the third passenger train, Mitali Express despite the Covid-19. And all these really reflect the relationship that is now on a higher trajectory.
So, we now look forward to working with you to take our ties to new domains- Artificial Intelligence, cyber security, startups, Fintech. We were pleased to receive your ICT Minister. We had a very good visit by your Railway Minister recently and I am glad to expand our cooperation on upgradation of our railway system.
And of course Excellency, we share 54 rivers. Comprehensive management of our rivers and their conservation, as well as the shared environment responsibility that we have, especially the Sundarbans. These are really areas that we need to work together as part of our commitment to climate action.
We would also like to convey our support and solidarity at the unprecedented flooding that we have had in Northern Bangladesh. We have also had in North-East. We are now sharing flood management data for an extended period. I would like to take the opportunity to convey that if in any concrete way, we can be of assistance to you in the management of flood and relief efforts, we would be very glad to be supportive. It would be in keeping with our relationship.
The better management of our long border is also a key priority. Our Border Guarding Forces is committed to combating trans-border crimes. We must continue to work together to make sure that the border remains crime-free.
On a larger landscape, we both have a commitment to a prosperous and connected sub-region. We have been working together on a BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement. And we also look at subregional cooperation in power, especially, hydropower. We are both the largest producer and consumer of energy in the region. And we would be very happy to work with Bangladesh to structure a progressive partnership in the areas of production, transmission and trade. I would also like to congratulate you, Excellency, for your overall very splendid economic performance.
The Joint Commission Meeting today, the range of the agenda that we have before us, it not only underlines the extent of our partnership, but also lays out the new opportunities.
So now, I now invite you to deliver your opening remarks.