Foreign Office Consultations
The first ever Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) meeting was held in Dhaka on 09 September 2018. Bangladesh side was led by H.E. Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary (Senior Secretary) of Bangladesh and Brunei side was led by H.E. Mrs. Hajah Siti Norishan Haji Abdul Ghafor, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brunei. The holding of the first Foreign Office Consultation meeting is a success story in the development of bi-lateral relations between Bangladesh and Brunei. The discussions took place in a friendly atmosphere. Both senior officials acknowledged that the FOC is an important testimony to the warm and friendly relations between Bangladesh and Brunei.
The two sides expressed satisfaction over the existing state of bilateral relationship, based on shared values, common priorities, and cultural understanding. The two sides agreed to continue working closely to take full advantage of the potentials emanating from existing complementarities of the two economies for mutual benefits. Both sides agreed to further deepen cooperation at bilateral, regional and international for a including the UN and OIC on issues of common concern.
Bangladesh side briefed Brunei on humanitarian assistance and repatriation initiatives for 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas, temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh, and appreciated Brunei’s humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya. Brunei commended Bangladesh’s humanitarian gesture and generous assistance as well as the efforts towards safe, dignified, voluntary, and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya. The meeting also discussed the possibility of energy collaboration via a Government-to-Government (G2G) arrangement including LNG supply into Bangladesh. Other discussed areas are investments in textiles, leather, ship-building, high-end hotels, pharmaceuticals, Halal and agro-based industries, education and health areas, deeper cooperation among the financial institutions, trade, tourism and ethical migration of the Bangladeshi workers.
The both countries have begun initiatives to materialize the decisions of the meeting. The immediate benefits of FOC have been encouraging and revealing. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina made the historical official visit to Brunei Darussalam on 21-23 April 2019. It is expected that His Majesty will make the reciprocal visit to Bangladesh in 2020.
The FOC also paved the way for the both sides to establish connectivity through various business firms and entrepreneurs for trade and commerce. A trade delegation from the FBCCI made a 3-day visit to Brunei after the FOC meeting. They held talks with Brunei Petroleum, Ministry of Finance and Economy, Ministry of Health, Darussalam Enterprise, Brunei Economic Development Board, Malay Chamber of Commerce. The delegations have shown keen interest on investment opportunities in the agriculture and fisheries and Halal food sector.
The two sides stressed on the need for holding regular consultations to elevate bilateral relationship to a new height. Both sides agreed to hold the 2nd FOC in Brunei within next two years.