Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday assured the world that her country would always strive to work with all friends and partners to ensure a peaceful, sustainable world and more importantly a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous Asia for the future generations.
She, in a video statement aired in the 27th International Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia, also said that at 50 years of independence, she is delighted that the Sonar Bangla (Golden Bangladesh), her father and Bangabandhu, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, dreamt of for his people is in the making. The two-day conference titled "Redefining Asia's role in a divided world" is being held in Tokyo in a hybrid format with both streaming and on-site attendance.
Hasina shared five ideas in the conference for building future Asia. In her first proposal, she said that the Asian countries need to extend the hands of friendship, understanding and cooperation to each other, and promote solidarity to address division. In the second and third proposals, she stressed on exploring how the soft power of ICT can be best used as a powerful tool to bridge the gaps between our countries and the Asian countries' need to safeguard fairness, respect, justice, inclusiveness, and equality in actions and deeds.
The fourth and fifth ideas were that Asia's future will depend on sustainable and balanced development, improving international order and establishing win-win international relations and the Asian countries have common development challenges and should face them unitedly and collectively. "In the Asia-Pacific region, we must combine our forces to share good practices, knowledge and technologies to help address our common challenges," she said. Noting that Bangladesh has just completed the celebration of the 50th anniversary of its independence, and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina also said mentioned that Bangladesh and Japan have been enjoying excellent relations since her country's independence in 1971.
"We remain deeply grateful for the invaluable support and contributions of Japan and its people, including schoolchildren, during our War of Liberation. Japan was among the first to recognize the newly-independent Bangladesh on February 10, 1972." On her government's achievements, she said that in Bangladesh, over the last 13 years, they have made development pro-people and inclusive. Sheikh Hasina said her government has redefined socio-economic perspective to move forward with her leadership with vision to build a knowledge-based, prosperous and modern nation. Bangladesh has formulated Vision 2021 and Vision 2041, followed by Delta Plan 2100, she said, adding that Bangladesh has become one of the fastest growing economies of the world, and one of the larger economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
"In this journey, we were supported by Japan and our friends and partners," she added. Expecting to attain over 7 per cent growth rate in the current fiscal, Sheikh Hasina said that her country, like rest of the world, was heavily affected by Covid-19, and while before the pandemic in 2019, GDP growth rate was 8.15 per cent and in 2020, it fell to 3.51 per cent followed by 6.94 per cent in 2021. "Our efforts have been recognised in the Nikkei's Covid-19 Recovery Index for April 2022, where Bangladesh is ranked 5th out of 121 countries, and the best-performing country in South Asia in Covid management and recovery," she said.
She added that Bangladesh's GDP is projected to grow to $465 billion, merchandise export income over $52 billion, remittances over $21 billion, and per capita income at $2,824 in the fiscal year ending in June 2022. She mentioned that Bangladesh has been active and vocal on climate change action in all discourses, including at the recent COP-26. "We have taken up the Presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum for 2020-2022 to act as a voice for the 48-member countries most threatened by climate change. And Bangladesh mooted the idea of SAARC and BIMSTEC to promote regional cooperation. Bangladesh has been active in promoting dialogue for cooperation through regional and multilateral platforms like SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA, OIC, NAM, ARF, ASEM, CICA, Commonwealth, etc.," she said.
The Prime Minister also said Bangladesh has attained the United Nations recognition for graduating from a Least Developed Country to a developing nation in 2026. "We are already taking various measures for a smooth graduation," she added,saying Bangladesh has urged its friends and partners through the UN mechanism to consider extending preferential facilities to Bangladesh for an extended period beyond 2026.
"Bangladesh is at different stages of negotiations on FTA with several countries, and opens to negotiating FTA and CEPA with other countries, including Japan," she said. The Prime Minister also reminded the conference that Bangladesh is hosting 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar and they must be sent back to their homeland in the Rakhine state of Myanmar in safety, security, and dignity.