Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has granted an interview to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on Bangladesh-Vietnam relations and President Tran Dai Quang’s State visit to Bangladesh from March 4-6.
The following is the full text of the interview.
Question: 45 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Bangladesh, the two countries’ ties have strongly developed in various areas, may you share the biggest achievements that the two sides have made during this period?
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: The people of Bangladesh and Vietnam have similarity in their struggle for independence. Founding Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Founder of modern Vietnam Ho Chi Minh - both had struggled for long and endured immense sufferings to free their people from subjugation. There are similarities in social and cultural traditions as well. Vietnam’s epic struggle for independence inspired us in our war of independence in 1971.
During late 1960s, as a student leader, I myself led and participated protest rallies against the Vietnam War. The people of Bangladesh were with the people of Vietnam in their struggle to free their country from occupation forces.
Over the years there has been exchange of high level visits in government level and political level between the two countries. The Bangladeshi people are visiting Vietnam for touristic purpose. People-to-people contact has thus increased. Bilateral cooperation in other sectors is also expanding.
However, friendship between the people of two countries and political understanding and goodwill generated between the government and leadership of the two countries are the biggest achievements.
Question: Can you point out the advantages and disadvantages of the two countries for further promoting cooperation?
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: Both Bangladesh and Vietnam are pursuing for rapid economic growth. Over the recent decades both countries achieved significant success. While we are competing in few areas, we believe there are complimentary between our economies where we could cooperate and further strengthen trade and investment relations.
Scope of cooperation also exists in agriculture, pharmaceutical, small and medium manufacturing sectors. We need to identify the complementarities in these sectors, exchange knowledge and expertise and avail opportunities in the global markets for the benefit of both the countries.
The idea is to complement each other and build synergies between the two countries. There can’t be any disadvantage when if the mutual cooperation is on win-win basis.
Question: What do you think about the potentialities that two countries can tap? Our economies have many similarities in nature.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: We are pursuing rapid economic development. We need to strengthen cooperation in garnering benefits from multilateral trade regimes promoting business and investment in both the countries. We can also cooperate with each other in small-medium manufacturing sector and ICT. We may also share best practices in attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Question: Can you point out how two countries can push the cooperation in the coming time, especially to realise the target of 1 billion USD?
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: Both Bangladesh and Vietnam agreed to intensify trade and investment promotion activities, strengthen cooperation among the private sectors of both countries and strive to achieve the target to increase bilateral trade volume to 1 billion USD.
We are happy to see bilateral trade has reached around 900 million USD in 2017. Removing trade barriers, intensifying contact between business people and investors can be useful for enhancing trade. Entrepreneurs and businessmen of both countries should explore opportunities in each other’s country.
We are emphasising on connectivity and tourism to increase people-to-people contact. These measures would help realising the target.
Question: What do you think about the significance of the Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang’s visit to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh?
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: Bangladesh maintains warm and friendly relations with Vietnam. We established diplomatic relations immediately after our independence. Over the years, good understanding, cooperation and goodwill developed between the two countries.
This year we are celebrating 45th anniversary of the diplomatic relation. The current visit of the President Tran Dai Quang also marks the occasion. This visit is indicative of Vietnam’s interest to enhance friendship and cooperation with Bangladesh.
Similarly, Bangladesh is very much eager to further deepen friendship and sectoral cooperation with our close regional neighbor Vietnam. During the visit, a number of MoUs on bilateral cooperation will be concluded.
The visit will help bring the two countries further closer. President Tran Dai Quang’s visit will go a long way in taking our relations to a new height.