Dhaka will have own Indo-Pacific strategy: Shahriar Alam

22 Jan 2023

Bangladesh will come up with its own strategy for the Indo-Pacific for a robust socio-economic regional cooperation, at a time when the region sees great power competition.


The priorities of the strategy would include strong regional connectivity, peace and stability, trade and investment, technology, climate change and energy, said State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam yesterday.


He said this at a dialogue on "Bangladesh and the Indo-pacific Collaboration: Priority Issues and Concerns" jointly organised by the Bangladesh Centre for Indo-Pacific Affairs (BCIPA) and the Department of International Affairs of Jahangirnagar University at a city hotel.


In May last year, the US launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) that now has 13 members. Washington wants Dhaka to be on its side in the Indo-Pacific, something that Dhaka says it's still studying.


The Indo-Pacific region is home to more than 50 percent of the world's population and produces about 60 percent of global GDP, making it the global focus, said Shahriar, adding that healthy competition can usher in healthier growth.


However, an unstable Myanmar, Rohingya crisis, illegal fishing, drug smuggling, human trafficking are some of the major threats the region faces.


Burma's [Myanmar] military is going to be a major security challenge and the country's instability also affects Bangladesh, US embassy political section chief Arturo Hines said.


He said the US Indo-pacific strategy highlights resilience, security, prosperity, democracy. And, Bangladesh is already advancing those principles by peacefully setting maritime demarcation, becoming a leader in health and climate change initiatives.


Bangladesh Enterprise Institute Distinguished Fellow Farooq Sobhan suggested that Bangladesh gives a hard look before joining the IPEF. Bangladesh can opt to become an observer first as Canada is, he said.


Noting US Senate passing Burma Act late last year, he said the Burma Act contains provisions for substantial humanitarian aid, support for the democracy movement. "We should take advantage of the act for a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis."


Foreign ministry's Maritime Affairs Unit Secretary Rear Admiral (retd) Khurshed Alam, Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hussain, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis, Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer, EU Ambassador Charles Whiteley, Japanese Ambassador Iwama Kiminori also spoke at the event moderated by BCIPA Executive Director Prof Shahab Enam Khan.


Source: The Daily Star