13 Mar 2018

The Business Times

Bangladesh and Singapore are at different levels of development, but can complement each other in their pursuit of economic growth, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Monday.

Singapore has the capital, advanced technology and know-how, while Bangladesh can offer a large, young and educated workforce, she said on the second day of an official visit which aims to forge more business opportunities between the two countries.

"These comparative advantages may be harnessed to our mutual benefit," Ms Hasina said in her toast speech at the Istana, where she was hosted to lunch by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Her Singapore counterpart acknowledged that Bangladesh's and Singapore's strategic locations - with Singapore situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and Bangladesh located in the heart of South Asia - facilitate the flow of people, goods and investment.

The two countries should do more together, he added, noting that Singapore-based companies are keen on the growing Bangladeshi market.

Sembcorp is one of the largest investors in Bangladesh's energy sector, with more than US$1.1 billion invested in power plants, while PSA is interested in exploring opportunities at Chittagong Port, the busiest seaport on the Bay of Bengal's coastline.

A slew of agreements will be signed during the visit, which Ms Hasina expects will "usher in a new era of economic cooperation between our two countries".

Among the pacts signed on Monday was one that will see the airlines of Singapore and Bangladesh operate more passenger and cargo services between and beyond the two countries.

Four other agreements to step up business and technological cooperation between them will be signed on Tuesday at the Bangladesh-Singapore Forum, where Ms Hasina is expected to make a vigorous pitch on the economic opportunities available in Bangladesh.

Mr Lee said these agreements between economic agencies and business chambers will be a signal to businesses that "relations between our two business communities and our two governments are good and the winds are favourable for their ventures if they decide to sail together".

Ms Hasina said: "Singapore continues to be a favourite destination for Bangladeshi workers. I hope that Singapore will continue to provide them with a decent work atmosphere."

Ms Hasina noted that Bangladesh and Singapore share a similar outlook on many issues of global concern.

"Our positions are based on a deeper understanding of, and respect for, each other's values, principles and approaches," said Ms Hasina, adding that Bangladesh hopes to forge deeper cooperation with Asean during Singapore's term at the regional group's helm.

Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission