Foreign relations of Bangladesh

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politics and government of
Bangladesh

The foreign relations share the Bangladeshi government's policies in its external relations with the international community. The country pursues a moderate foreign policy that places heavy reliance on multinational diplomacy, especially at the United Nations and World Trade Organization (WTO). Since independence in 1971, the country has stressed its principle of "Friendship towards all, malice towards none" in dictating its diplomacy. As a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Bangladesh has tended to not take sides with major powers. Since the end of the Cold War, the country has pursued better relations with regional neighbours.

Inspired by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's vision for a Switzerland of the East, the Bangladesh government has begun to translate the ideal into a foreign policy that pursues regional economic integration in South Asia and aims to establish Bangladesh as a regional hub of transit trade in Asia.

Participation in multilateral organisations[edit]

Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

Bangladesh, which was part of British India until 1947, joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1972 after its establishment as an independent nation in 1971.[1] It has actively participated in the Heads of Government conferences that take place bi-annually.

United Nations[edit]

Bangladesh was admitted to the United Nations in 1974[2] and was elected to a Security Council term in 1978–1980[3] and again for a 2000–02 term. Foreign Minister Mr. Humayun Rasheed Choudhury served as president of the 41st UN General Assembly in 1986.

In recent years, Bangladesh has played a significant role in international peacekeeping activities. Nearly 10,000 Bangladeshi military personnel are deployed overseas on peacekeeping operations, making it a large contributor to the UN peacekeeping forces. Under UN auspices, Bangladeshi troops have served or are serving in Somalia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Kuwait, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Haiti, and units are currently serving in Kuwait and East Timor. Bangladesh responded quickly to US President Bill Clinton's 1994 request for troops and police for the multinational force for Haiti and provided the largest non-US contingent. As of December 2012, Bangladesh is the largest provider of UN peacekeepers.

Non-Aligned Movement[edit]

Main article: Non-Aligned Movement

Bangladesh was selected to provide the next chairman of NAM at the summit scheduled for Dhaka 2001, however it was later decided to host the summit at an alternative venue. As a member of the Non-aligned Movement Bangladesh never took any position in line with big powers. However it parted with its principle by voting at the United Nations against North Korea, under pressure from Japan, in December 2008.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation[edit]

Main article: OIC

See also OIC role in Pakistan-Bangladesh relationship

In 1974, then Prime minister Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, lead a Bangladeshi delegation team consisting Kamal Hossain, Enayet Karim, Ataur Rahman Khan, Taheruddin Thakur, Tofail Ahmed and Shah Azizur Rahman under him,[4] to the international meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) held in Lahore. Following this participation Bangladesh was admitted as a member of OIC. In 1977, President Ziaur Rahman amended the Constitution of Bangladesh, including a clause stating that " the state shall endeavour to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic solidarity ".[5] Since then, an explicit goal of Bangladeshi foreign policy has been to seek close relations with other Islamic states. In 1980, President Ziaur Rahman was included in a 3-member "Al-Quds" summit committee to attend the summit at Morocco.[6] In 1983, Bangladesh hosted in capital Dhaka the foreign ministers meeting of the OIC. At the OIC headquarters at Jeddah, Bangladesh is represented in the capacity of one of the Director Generals.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation[edit]

The government also pursued the expansion of co-operation among the nations of South Asia, bringing the process—an initiative of former President Ziaur Rahman—through its earliest, most tentative stages to the formal inauguration of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at a summit gathering of South Asian leaders in Dhaka in December 1985. Bangladesh has served in the chairmanship of SAARC and has participated in a wide range of ongoing SAARC regional activities

Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation[edit]

Main article: BIMSTEC

An international organisation which includes South Asian and Southeast Asian nations. The member nations of this group are: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. The organisation focuses on regional economy, regional development and trade & investment.

Developing 8 Countries[edit]

Bangladesh along with the seven other nations are all original members and no plans for expansions have been made. The Developing 8 is an economic development alliance consisting of Muslim majority states which focuses in multiple areas which are rural development, science and technology, banking, agriculture, humanitarian development, energy, environment, health and finance. On 14 May 2006 in Bali, Indonesia, Bangladesh was the only nation not to sign a preferential trade agreement.

Asia Pacific Trade Agreement[edit]

The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), formerly known as the Bangkok Agreement, was signed in 1975 under one of the major initiatives taken by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Six Participating States- Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, South Korea, and Sri Lanka are the parties to the APTA. In 2005, Bangladesh signed the APTA agreement which would enable it to reduce trade gaps between itself and other nations such as China, South Korea and its neighbour India. The APTA pact does occupy market for 2921.2 million people and the size of this big market accounts US$14615.86 billion in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015–2016.[7] APTA’s key objective is to hasten economic development among the six participating states opting trade and investment liberalisation measures that will contribute to intra-regional trade and economic strengthening through the coverage of merchandise goods and services, synchronised investment regime and free flow of technology transfer making all the Participating States to be in equally winsome situation (Latifee, E. H., 2016).Another aspect of the agreement is to be given duty-free access to its products.[8]

World Trade Organization[edit]

Bangladesh is an active member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Bangladesh has a permanent mission in Geneva to look after matters relating to multilateral trading system under the WTO regime since the mid-1990s.

World Customs Organization[edit]

Bangladesh is an active member of the World Customs Organization (WCO). Bangladesh has a permanent representative to WCO which has its headquarters in Brussels.

Like Minded Group[edit]

Main article: Like Minded Group

Bangladesh have formed an alliance with nineteen other developing countries to vote as a bloc in organisations such as the WTO and the United Nations.

Other[edit]

Bangladesh is currently chairman of the Developing 8 Countries. The government has participated in numerous international conferences, especially those dealing with population, food, development, and women's issues. In 1982–83, Bangladesh played a constructive role as chairman of the "Group of 77", an informal association encompassing most of the world's developing nations. It has taken a leading role in the "Group of 48" developing countries. Bangladesh also participates in these international organisations: ARF, AsDB, BIMSTEC, CP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, MONUC, SACEP, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, OPCW.

Bilateral relations[edit]

Bangladesh have established official diplomatic relations with most of the members of United Nations as well as some non-UN members like Palestine. Relations with these nations are largely cordial except for some bilateral disputes with Pakistan and Burma. Issue with India stem from teesta and other river water sharing.[9] Bangladesh puts deep emphasis on relations with China and the United States as China is the largest military supplier to Bangladesh while United States is one of the largest export markets for Bangladeshi products. In recent years, the relations with Russia also became influential because of the Russian loan and technical assistance on military modernisation and the first ever nuclear power plant project of Bangladesh. The bilateral relations of Bangladesh are mainly based on trade activities. However, with certain countries, the relations expand to other areas such as military co-operation, cultural exchange etc.

Asia[edit]

South Asia[edit]

Bangladesh maintains friendly relations with Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and also India, although there was a border dispute, but with that solved relations between Bangladesh and India are becoming much closer.[10] It strongly opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Bangladesh and Nepal recently agreed to facilitate land transit between the two countries.

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Afghanistan Islamic Republic of Afghanistan See Afghanistan–Bangladesh relations

Ties between Afghanistan and Bangladesh goes back before the emergence of their modern political borders sharing historical, cultural and trade relations. In 1971, the Kingdom of Afghanistan was one of the first Muslim countries to recognise the independence of Bangladesh, along with Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia. They share similar views on international issues such as combating terrorism and increased regional co-operation. A Bangladeshi NGO, BRAC is a part of the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan particularly in microfinance and in 2007 the Afghan ambassador to Bangladesh, Ahmed Karim Nawabi had stated that Afghanistan is interested in recruiting manpower from Bangladesh.[11]

 Bhutan Kingdom of Bhutan See Bangladesh–Bhutan relations

Along with India, Bangladesh is one of the only two nations to have a residential embassy in Bhutan. The relationship between Bhutan and Bangladesh have always been positive since 1971 when the country was the second to recognise the independence of Bangladesh.[12][13][14][15]

The business community in Bhutan are asking for more investment from Bangladesh after a meeting in the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in Dhaka. Imports from Bhutan. during the 07-08 fiscal year, Bhutan's imports were worth $10.8million whereas Bangladesh's exports to Bhutan was only worth $0.78million.[16]

 India Republic of India See Bangladesh–India relations, Bangladeshis in India and Indians in Bangladesh

Generally relations are usually friendly however government to government contacts are sometimes not too good because of border disputes and river disputes.[17] In 2015 they have exchanged enclaves to help demarcate the border and have agreed to work together and end any irritants to ties like smuggling of cows,border killings, and also river disputes.[18][19][20][21] India was the second country to recognise Bangladesh as a separate and independent state, doing so on 6 December 1971.[22] India helped Bangladeshis during the Bangladesh Liberation war in 1971. Bangladesh's relationship with India has been a difficult in terms of irrigation and land border disputes post 1976. However, Bangladesh has enjoyed favourable relationship with India during governments formed by the Awami League in 1972 and 1996.

At the outset India's relations with Bangladesh was strong because of India's support for independence in 1971. During the independence war, many refugees fled to India. India also intervened militarily and helped bring international attention to the issue through Indira Gandhi's visit to Washington, D.C. Afterwards India furnished relief and reconstruction aid. India extended recognition to Bangladesh prior to the end of the war in 1971 (the second country to do so after Bhutan) and subsequently lobbied others to follow suit. India also withdrew its military from the land of Bangladesh when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman requested Indira Gandhi to do so during latter's visit to Dhaka in 1972.[23][24]

Indo-Bangladesh relations have been difficult since the fall of Mujib government in August 1975[25] over issues such as the Tin Bigha corridor and access to Nepal, the Farakka Barrage and water sharing, border conflicts near Tripura and the construction of a fence along most of the border which India explains as security provision against migrants, insurgents and terrorists. Bilateral relations warmed in 1996, due to a softer Indian foreign policy and the new Awami League Government. A 30-year water-sharing agreement for the Ganges River was signed in December 1996, after an earlier bilateral water-sharing agreement for the Ganges River lapsed in 1988. Both nations also have cooperated on the issue of flood warning and preparedness. The Bangladesh Government and tribal insurgents signed a peace accord in December 1997, which allowed for the return of tribal refugees who had fled into India, beginning in 1986, to escape violence caused by an insurgency in their homeland in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

There are also small pieces of land along the border region that Bangladesh is diplomatically trying to reclaim. Padua, part of Sylhet Division before 1971, has been under Indian control since the war in 1971. This small strip of land was re-occupied by the BDR in 2001, but later given back to India after Bangladesh government decided to solve the problem through diplomatic negotiations.[26][27]

In recent years, India has complained that Bangladesh does not secure its border properly. It fears an increasing flow of poor Bangladeshis and it accuses Bangladesh of harbouring Indian separatist groups like ULFA and alleged terrorist groups. The Bangladesh government has consistently denied these accusations.[28][29] India estimates that over 20 million Bangladeshis are living illegally in India.[30] One Bangladeshi official responded that "there is not a single Bangladeshi migrant in India".[31] Since 2002, India has been constructing an India – Bangladesh Fence along much of the 2500 mile border.[32] The failure to resolve migration disputes bears a human cost for illegal migrants, such as imprisonment and health risks (namely HIV/Aids).[33]

In May 2007, they announced that for the first time since the 1965 Indo-Pak War, rail service between Kolkata and Dhaka will be restored, a lapse of 42 years.[34] Moreover, in October 2007 some co-operation was announced on the border issues mentioned above.[35] After national election 2008, Awami League formed government in January 2009, relationship with India improved. In 2014, a binding ruling by a tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded disputed New Moore island (called South Talpatti by Bangladesh) to India, and demarcated the sea boundary.[36]

 Maldives Republic of the Maldives See Bangladesh–Maldives relations

Maldives as a nation dependent on its tourism sector, they have asked Bangladesh to export manpower to the island state. At the 15th SAARC Summit, Maldives and Bangladesh met at the sidelines to discuss the possibility of sending more semi-skilled and skilled workers. There are already 40,000 workers in Maldives mostly in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs.[37]

   Nepal Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal See Bangladesh–Nepal relations

Nepal has good bilateral relations with Bangladesh as they view the latter nation as a great access to the sea giving them the opportunity to develop potential transit and trade facilities and be less dependent on India and China. Nepal recognised Bangladesh on 16 January 1972[38] and relations further improved after the military coup in August 1975. The turning point for the two nations occurred in April 1976, signing a four-point agreement on technical co-operation, trade, transit and civil aviation. They both seek co-operation in the fields of power generation and development of water resources. In 1986, relations further improved when Bangladesh insisted Nepal should be included on a deal regarding the distribution of water from the Ganges River.[39]

 Pakistan Islamic Republic of Pakistan See Bangladesh–Pakistan relations

The Bangladesh-Pakistan relationship is yet to be at a level that may be called warm. However, since full diplomatic relations were implemented in January 1976, it has shown improvement in bilateral relations concerning commerce, culture and trade and making reconciliatory agreements.

Landmarks in their reconciliation are:

  • An August 1973 agreement between Bangladesh and Pakistan on the repatriation of numerous individuals, including 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war stranded in Bangladesh as a result of the 1971 conflict;
  • A February 1974 accord by Bangladesh and Pakistan on mutual diplomatic recognition, followed more than 2 years later by establishment of formal diplomatic relations on 18 January 1976
  • The organisation by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of an airlift that moved almost 250,000 Bengalis from Pakistan to Bangladesh, and non-Bengalis from Bangladesh to Pakistan; and
  • Exchanges of high-level visits, including a visit by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to Bangladesh in 1989 and visits by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to Pakistan in 1992 and in 1995.

Issues need resolving:

  • Division of assets from the pre-1971 period[citation needed]
  • Repatriation of 250,000 ethnic Biharis known as "Stranded Pakistanis"
  • Possibly the most important and most sensitive issue is the Question of Pakistan's apology for the genocide in 1971 which has led to the breakdown of numerous talks between the two.[citation needed]
 Sri Lanka Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka See Bangladesh–Sri Lanka relations

Relations are historically tied together even beyond the sub-continent's colonisation by the British. Sri Lanka's first King (to be mentioned in the ancient Pali chronicles) was alleged to have ancestors from the Vanga Kingdom which occupied an area now known as Bangladesh. Bangladesh's Buddhist minority gifted Sri Lanka with a few strands of hair said to have belonged to Buddha as a sign of goodwill. It is a worshiped object on Poya Day, a Buddhist public holiday in Sri Lanka.[40]

In August 2008, both Heads of States discussed the implementation of new air links in hope of increasing trade, investment and stronger cultural links. Sri Lanka's current investments have been in Bangladesh's garment and banking sector and expect to diversify into different areas. Bangladesh also hosts a number of Sri Lankan medical students and cricket as a form of friendly communications between their people.[41]

Some Sri Lankan Navy officers have studied at the Bangladesh Naval Academy.[42]

Southeast Asia[edit]

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Brunei Nation of Brunei See Bangladesh–Brunei relations

They are both members of OIC, the Commonwealth of Nations and NAM and share common views on regional and international issues. Brunei recognised Bangladesh quickly with other Southeast Asian countries (Muslim majority nations like Indonesia and Malaysia in particular) and Bangladesh established residential Diplomatic mission in 1985, although they closed it down in 1988 due to financial constraints. In 1997, Bangladesh reopened its embassy, Brunei has a residential embassy located in Dhaka. Brunei actively supports Bangladesh's candidacy for different regional and international organisations. They supported Bangladesh's United Nation Economic and Social Council 2004–06 tenure, UNESCO Executive Board from 2003–07, Governing Board of the ASEAN Organization of the Supreme Audit Institution (ASOSAI) for the 2004–06 term and membership into the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

Both countries are looking to increase trade & investment such as Bangladesh's pharmaceutical products and Brunei's oil in particular. Brunei also imports manpower from Bangladesh although recently Bangladesh have been asking to take in more manpower especially professionals and to reduce the price of applying to work in Brunei by half (currently it is $1800 per worker from South Asian countries).

Education is another part of their relations such as the Brunei Darussalam Government Scholarship for Commonwealth Countries. One Bangladeshi student who wins this scholarship has the opportunity to study at University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and Institute Technology Brunei (ITB) to study science-based subjects. Students in Brunei have also been able to go to Bangladesh to study at their Medical Colleges and other higher education institutions offering quality education in Asia at a lower cost compared to western nations.

Defence relations is improving although Bangladesh are expecting more trainee officers in the future. Every year Brunei sends its personal for training in Defence Services Command and Staff College and other Military institutions. Defence officers from Bangladesh can also visit Military institutions in Brunei although it is only optional.

Both countries have agreed to increase air links between the two countries which have already signed two agreements in 2004 and 2006 resulting in Bangladesh granting 5th freedom traffic rights with "intermediate" and "beyond" like Singapore and Dubai.[citation needed] Direct air links could cut travel time between the two countries by more than half, benefiting the 10,000 Bangladeshis working in Brunei.[43]

Both countries have set up a joint committee primarily to discuss the current bilateral relations and how it can improve although they can discuss international issues with mostly similar views on.

 Cambodia Kingdom of Cambodia See Bangladesh–Cambodia relations

Bangladesh signed trade agreement on 4 August 2006 with Cambodia in Phnom Penh. The trade agreement will help in further expanding and strengthening trade relations between the two countries.

Bangladesh's major export items to Cambodia are ready-made garments, footwear and leather goods, knitwear, pharmaceuticals, table wear, home linen, textile, seafood and marine products, tea, potato, jute and jute goods, light engineering products, spices, cosmetics, ceramic, melamine products and toiletries.

Major import items from Cambodia are—cotton, edible oil, fertiliser, clinker, staple fibre, yarn and capital machinery.

 East Timor Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste See Bangladesh–East Timor relations
 Indonesia Republic of Indonesia See Bangladesh–Indonesia relations

Indonesia along with other non-Arab Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and Afghanistan immediately recognised Bangladesh. Relations have gone into different areas such as trade & investment, cultural exchange and peacekeeping.

Indonesia is the world largest Muslim country in terms of its population, whereas Bangladesh is the fourth largest Muslim country. Indonesia and Bangladesh are partners in Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Developing 8 Countries. Bangladesh has an embassy in Jakarta, whereas Indonesia has an embassy in Dhaka. Since the official bilateral relations were established in 1972, both countries enjoy cordial and friendly relations.

Indonesia have recently signed a deal with a pharmaceutical company called Eskayef Bangladesh Ltd. to export its goods to their country where Bangladesh sees another potential market for its pharmaceutical products.[44]

 Laos Lao People's Democratic Republic See Bangladesh–Laos relations

The relations between Laos and Bangladesh is cordial.

 Malaysia Malaysia See Bangladesh–Malaysia relations

Malaysia was one of the first Muslim states along with Indonesia to recognise Bangladesh and since then the two have seen a rapid growth of co-operation between them. Malaysia offers economic and technical assistance, trade and investment while Bangladesh offers a cheap labour workforce for areas such as construction.

Malaysia is the largest ASEAN investor in Bangladesh and Malaysian companies have invested $1.3 billion in 59 projects in 2007 in areas such as telecommunications, textiles and financial sector. However the trade balance is overwhelmingly in Malaysia's favour, during the 2006–07 fiscal year, exports were a mere $16.9 million compared to $384.16 million in imports. Trading between the two nations are increasing especially in pharmaceutical exports with a number businesses are calling for a Free Trade Agreement to balance out the trade deficit.

Many Malaysian companies have shown keen interest to participate in infrastructure projects here such as power generation, sea port development, waste disposal system, construction of roads and highways as well as in the service sector such as education and healthcare. Malaysia said will continue to contribute positive efforts to promote and expand bilateral relations with Bangladesh, particularly in trade and investment. Pending projects like the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, worth $1.2 billion, power generation, port development etc. would be completed.

In 2008, Malaysia and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding regarding exchange of information to combat money laundering. The signatories are the financial intelligence units of the central banks of both nations.[45]

Bangladesh and Malaysia are also members of Developing 8, OIC, the Commonwealth of Nations, Like Minded Group and Non-Aligned Movement show that the two have similar views on regional and international issues.

Issue of labour force administration in Malaysia has somewhat strained the bilateral ties temporarily. In 2007 Malaysia banned imports of Bangladeshi workers into the country after hundreds of them were stranded at an airport because their employers failed to collect them. There were demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur by Bangladeshi workers demanding payments and better conditions. This created a crisis in the bilateral ties but issue has been resolved with the interference of the governments. The government had placed a similar restriction in 1999 but lifted the ban in 2011 by approving an initial intake of 300,000 workers.[46]

 Burma Republic of the Union of Myanmar See Bangladesh–Burma relations

Bilateral ties with Burma are good, despite occasional border strains and an influx of more than 270,000 Muslim refugees (known as "Rohingya") from predominantly Buddhist Burma. As a result of bilateral discussions, and with the co-operation and assistance of the UNHCR, most of the Rohingya refugees have now returned to Burma[citation needed]. As of 2000, about 22,000 refugees remain in camps in southern Bangladesh.

At the 2008 ASEAN Regional forum summit in Singapore, Bangladesh and Myanmar have pledged to solve their maritime boundary disputes as quickly as possible especially that a UN deadline in claiming maritime territories will expire in three years time.[47]

 Philippines Republic of the Philippines See Bangladesh–Philippines relations

Bangladesh and the Philippines have had a very close and friendly relations since the birth of Bangladesh. The Philippines supported the liberation of Bangladesh and recognised it on 24 February 1972. The Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations spoke in favour of the nation during its liberation struggle and also during Bangladesh's admission to the United Nations in 1974.

 Singapore Republic of Singapore See Bangladesh–Singapore relations

The two nations are founders of the Asian Union. A sizeable number of Bangladeshi migrant workers are currently working in labour-intensive jobs in Singapore.

 Thailand Kingdom of Thailand See Bangladesh–Thailand relations

Relations are considered close and cordial and have made strides to improve trade and investment between the two countries. Diplomatic relations were established on 5 October 1972 and Thailand opened its embassy in 1974 followed by Bangladesh setting up their own in Bangkok in the following year. The first visit between the two countries was President Ziaur Rahman's visit to Thailand in 1979 followed by Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanond in 1983. Other Heads of States like Ershad visited in 1985, 1988 and 1990 and Thaksin Shinawatra in July and December 2002 and January 2004. Thailand is a key country in Bangladesh's "Look East" policy and relations have begun to increase and diversify into different areas.

They seek not to intervene in each other's internal matters as shown by their response to the events occurring in their own respective countries in 2006 such as the 2006 Thai coup d'état and 2006–2008 Bangladeshi political crisis. Both have considerable co-operation in summits organised by BIMSTEC and the ASEAN regional forum. Upper class and upper middle class Bangladeshis often go to Thailand for medical treatment and operations that the country's medical infrastructure cannot provide.

 Vietnam Socialist Republic of Vietnam See Bangladesh–Vietnam relations

After Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, it had strongly supported North Vietnam's struggle with the US and strongly opposed the bombing of North Vietnam which was demonstrated by nationwide movements. Bangladesh was the first South Asian and second Asian nation to establish relations with South Vietnam at an ambassadorial level. On 11 February 1973, both nations officially established diplomatic relations. In 1982, Vietnam closed its embassy in Dhaka for financial reasons and reopened it in January 2003. Bangladesh opened its embassy in Ha Noi in November 1993.

Relations between the two countries are good and had been marked with several high level visits such as Khaleda Zia's visit in 2005 and President Tran Duc Luong in 2004. They maintain good co-operation on an international level in organisations such as the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN regional forum. Bangladesh has supported Vietnam as a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council and requested Vietnam to support its participation into ARF, ASEM, EWEC, MGC.

East Asia[edit]

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 China People's Republic of China See Bangladesh–China relations

Early relations with the People's Republic of China were cold due to the rare use of China's veto at the United Nations Security Council to block Bangladesh's accession to the United Nations. Lately however China has made efforts to improve relations with many of its neighbours. Trade with China reached a record level in 2006 of $3.2 billion under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (AFTA). The trade balance between the two countries are in China's favour. China has officially agreed to help Bangladesh on developing their nuclear power plant. Bangladesh has also signed the Apsco convention with six other nations to form a pact with China on space exploration.[48]

 Japan State of Japan See Bangladesh–Japan relations and Bangladeshis in Japan

Bangladeshi-Japanese relations were established in February 1972.[49] Japan is Bangladesh's 11th-largest export market; imports from Bangladesh make up 26% of all Japanese imports from the least developed countries, second only to those from Cambodia. Common imports from Bangladesh to Japan include leather goods, ready-made garments, and seafood.[50] By 2004, Japan had become Bangladesh's fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment, behind the United States, United Kingdom, and Malaysia. Japan's political goals in its relationship with Bangladesh include gaining support for their bid to join the United Nations Security Council, and securing markets for their finished goods. Japan is a significant source of development aid to Bangladesh.[51]

 Mongolia Mongolia See Bangladesh–Mongolia relations
 North Korea Democratic People's Republic of Korea See Bangladesh–North Korea relations

Due to their pro-China administration, North Korea did not establish ties until China recognised and established relations with Bangladesh in 1974. There is a North Korean embassy located in Dhaka although Bangladesh maintains a non-residential status. Instead communication between the Juche state and Bangladesh is with the latter's embassy in Beijing. Relations have only gone as far as recognition and neither nation has ever desired to progress this even further, especially due to the increase in military co-operation between Bangladesh and South Korea and North Korea's isolationist policies. In 2006, Bangladesh have used its ties with North Korea, urging them to comply with a UN resolution after North Korea's missile launch during a meeting with then Japanese Foreign Minister, Taro Aso.[52]

 South Korea Republic of Korea See Bangladesh–South Korea relations

Relations are considered to be productive and progressive. Their relations have gone on to expand in several areas such as defence and trade & investment. Bangladesh also sends a large number of skilled migrant workers to South Korea to work in the following sectors:- construction, manufacture, services, and agriculture, fisheries and livestock.[53][54] Bangladesh and South Korea's Olympic organisations signed an agreement which would benefit Bangladesh's sports development. One aspect is to bring in highly skilled Korean coaches to train Bangladeshi athletes and exchange of sport teams.[55] South Korea and Bangladesh are also increasing military ties such as joint military exercises training of units such as special forces and building a submarine. Bangladesh has already procured a ULSAN class frigate from South Korea.

Central Asia[edit]

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyz Republic See Bangladesh–Kyrgyzstan relations

Bangladesh established diplomatic relations with Kyrgyzstan immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. As Bangladesh had mutual relations with the Soviet Union, the former intended to increase co-operation after the collapse, especially amongst the new Muslim majority nations. As Bangladesh have begun increasing production of pharmaceutical goods, melamine, garments and jute products other nations have become increasingly interested such as Kyrgyzstan whose Ambassador Orolbaeva Irina Abdyevna have said this could help strengthen bilateral ties. Other areas including education have been mentioned, with a demand of increasing educational exchange. President Iajuddin Ahmed had said with the increasing standards of higher education especially in engineering, medical, science and technology, he stated Kyrgyz students can benefit studying in Bangladesh's educational facilities. Kyrgyzstan's expertise in hydroelectricity can also help with Bangladesh's growing energy problem.[56]

 Kazakhstan Republic of Kazakhstan See Bangladesh–Kazakhstan relations
 Tajikistan Republic of Tajikistan See Bangladesh–Tajikistan relations
 Turkmenistan Turkmenia See Bangladesh–Turkmenistan relations
 Uzbekistan Republic of Uzbekistan See Bangladesh–Uzbekistan relations

Western Asia (Middle East)[edit]

During the Bangladesh Liberation War, the majority of conservative Arab nations were against Bangladeshi liberation because India- a non-Muslim nation was supporting break up of a Muslim country (Pakistan).Non-Arab Muslim nations such as Indonesia and Turkey established relations quickly. In the present, Bangladesh maintains relations to the Middle East through many areas such as commerce, history, military and most importantly religious ties which enabled the two to co-operate more easily then compared to their Western or Far Eastern partners. Bangladesh supplies over 1 million guest workers to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and other Gulf countries. In turn most of Bangladesh's oil is imported from this region.[57] Islamic countries and charities provide economic aid usually to advance the Islamic agenda, including funding mosques and madrassas.

During the Yom Kippur War, Bangladesh supported the Arabs and Palestinians and sent a medical team and relief supply which was appreciated. In return they enabled Bangladesh to become a member of NAM at the Algiers Summit in 1973 and pressured Pakistan into recognising Bangladesh to get Mujib to go to the 1974 OIC Summit in Lahore, as he stated that was his only condition.

Bangladesh also took active part in trying to broker a ceasefire between Iran and Iraq during their eight-year war as a member of the United Nations Security Council and participating in the UNIIMOG mission which they became Acting Head of in the last few years before withdrawal. It later helped them to be elected into the OIC Peace Committee.

Bangladesh strongly opposed the Israeli bombardment of South Lebanon which killed approximately 1,191 civilians and described it as "State Terrorism" and a double standard conflict going into detail that a non-western nation would have been labelled a terrorist and a western nation would have never been deemed a terrorist.[58] They also contributed to the peacekeeping effort after the 2006 Lebanon War by sending in battalions of infantry. [59]

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain See Bahrain–Bangladesh relations
 Iraq Republic of Iraq See Bangladesh–Iraq relations

Iraq was the first Arab nation to recognise the independence of Bangladesh.[60] Bangladesh and Iraq have embassies located in Baghdad and Dhaka. Iraq temporarily closed down their embassy after the Iraq War began[61] but after a six-year lapse appointed a new ambassador in October 2007.[62]

Bangladesh and Iraq's ties are primarily based on common faith but there has not been much progression into areas such as trade and investment. Between 1980 and 1986, Iraq sent five officers to study in Bangladesh's military academy in Dhaka.[63] The only notable visit between the two nations was Saddam Hussein's visit to Bangladesh in 1988. The height of Bangladesh-Iraq relations was during the 1980s due to Bangladesh's role in trying to call for a ceasefire between Iraq and Iran during their war and was a part of UNIIMOG. Relations quickly deteriorated after Iraq invaded Kuwait sparking the Gulf War and a huge rise in oil prices. Bangladesh responded to the UN resolution demanding Iraq withdraw by the deadline or face military action. Bangladesh's other reasons for participation was because of the Bangladeshi community in Kuwait who some work on oil rigs and Kuwait is Bangladesh's oil supplier. Bangladesh joined the UN coalition to liberate Kuwait.

Relations between Baghdad and Dhaka would later improve after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 when Bangladesh declined to send troops to Iraq despite America's persistence and stating that the UN should have had a primary role in solving the matter before the war.[64][65] Currently they want a complete withdrawal from Iraq and has expressed support for reconstruction efforts. The public in Bangladesh have repeatedly held large demonstrations against the war.[66]

 Iran Islamic Republic of Iran See Bangladesh–Iran relations

Immediately after the independence of Bangladesh, many non-Arab nations quickly recognised the new country. However, due to the strong pro-US attitude of the Shah and helping to transport weapons to West Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Iran, however, established diplomatic relations with independent Bangladesh in early 1972. A turning point in relations was during the Iraq-Iran War when Bangladesh as a UN Security Council member tried to broker a ceasefire between the nations and settle their disputes with dialogue. Eventually, Bangladesh would participate in UNIIMOG mission to observe that agreements such as a ceasefire had been honoured.

In 1995, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani became the first President of Iran to visit Bangladesh. The current president, Hassan Rouhani is looking to strengthen relations with countries in South Asia such as Bangladesh by increasing Iranian investment like building oil refineries. In return, Bangladesh is supporting Iran's rights to its Nuclear Program for Peaceful Purposes. In 2006, both countries signed a preferential trade accord which removes non-tariff barriers, hoping to take it further to a free trade agreement[67] and in 2007, Bangladesh has requested Iranian assistance on building its nuclear power plant.[68]

Both countries are members of Developing 8 Countries, OIC, Like Minded Group. They have generally similar views on world issues especially on the occupation of Palestine.

 Jordan Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan See Bangladesh–Jordan relations
 Oman Sultanate of Oman See Bangladesh–Oman relations
 Qatar State of Qatar See Bangladesh–Qatar relations
 Israel Israel See Bangladesh–Israel relations

Bangladesh does not recognise Israel. even though Israel was one of the first nations to recognise Bangladesh. It has called for an end to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories and for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Bangladesh has a complete ban on trade (indirect and direct) with Israel even though both are members of the WTO. As Bangladesh does not have any diplomatic relations with Israel, it is not permitted for Bangladeshis to travel to Israel using a Bangladesh passport, which brought about the arrest of journalist Salah Choudhury.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War Bangladesh offered to send battalions of its infantrymen to help with the UN peacekeeping force, however Israel opposed it stating Bangladesh does not recognise Israel.[59] Although Israel rejected the country's participation, Bangladesh and Nepal were the first countries whose troops reached the shores of South Lebanon. As of 3 December 2015 Bangladesh has 285 personal participating in UNIFIL in Lebanon.[69]

 Lebanon Lebanese Republic See Bangladesh–Lebanon relations

Ties between the two are based on common background such as religious tolerance, the need to tackle Islamic militancy, similar views on global events and common religion. Bangladesh opposed Israel's bombing of South Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War and offered to contribute approximately 2,000 troops to the peacekeeping force. As of 3 December 2015 Bangladesh has 285 personal participating in UNIFIL in Lebanon.[69] Bangladesh Navy has also contributed a vessel to the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force (MTF) in Lebanon.[70]

Bangladesh like other South Asian countries also send workers to Lebanon to work in domestic and manual jobs, although many like those in the Gulf states complain of harsh conditions and low wages. During the 2006 Lebanon War, some of the Bangladeshis returned home but some went unpaid as their employers escaped the conflict by travelling abroad.

 Palestine Palestine See Bangladesh–Palestine relations

Relations between Bangladesh and Palestine are considered to be warm and cordial as Bangladesh advocates for an independent Palestinian state and an end to Israeli occupation. Bangladesh is one of the 135 countries to recognise Palestine as a state since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence on 15 November 1988. The first high-level meeting between the two was in 1974 at the second OIC summit in Lahore, Pakistan between Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Yasser Arafat. Since then there have been high level contact such as Yasser Arafat's visits in 1981 and 1987 who was warmly received by both former presidents Ziaur Rahman and Hossain Mohammad Ershad with favourable media coverage. Later when democracy returned to Bangladesh, Arafat was also received warmly by Prime Ministers Khaleda Zia[71] and Sheikh Hasina. There is a wide public support for an independent Palestine as the Government had reported in 1987 that 8,000 had volunteered for the PLO although there had never been any official moves to send weapons or personnel.[72] However, it has been reported that some Bangladeshis have travelled to Lebanon to join Palestinian battles against Israel. Since the 1980s, under IMET (International Military Education and Training) there have been development of military ties between the PLO and Bangladesh with the former attending one year courses at the Bangladesh Military Academy in Chittagong.[73] Palestine is represented in Bangladesh by the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Dhaka. Bangladesh also provided material help to establish the diplomatic mission.[74]

 Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia See Bangladesh–Saudi Arabia relations

Early relations between Riyadh and Dhaka where somewhat dormant owing to the former capital's country's close bond with Pakistan. From mid-1970s onward Bangladesh was seeking closer ties with oil rich Arab states such as Saudi Arabia. After the 1982 coup by Ershad, he visited Riyadh to meet with the King. Nine months later a ten-member delegation of the Saudi military arrived in Bangladesh to discuss possible military ties and inspect its facilities.Since 1981, Saudi Arabia has sent 100 officers to the Defense Services Command & Staff College in Dhaka, which is the college's largest number of overseas graduates from a single nation.[75]

Bangladesh is seeking to increase economic ties with Saudi Arabia to reduce the trade deficit currently in the Kingdom's favour. One of their proposals is to export ceramics, leather and pharmaceutical products to the Kingdom as they are already doing with the western nations.[76]

 Syria Syrian Arab Republic See Bangladesh–Syria relations
 Turkey Republic of Turkey See Bangladesh–Turkey relations

Bangladesh-Turkey relations have been excellent since Turkey recognised Bangladesh in 1971, soon after independence. The trade volume between the two countries have grown as did Bangladeshi exports and has been in Bangladesh's favour throughout their economic relationship. The present bilateral trade (2011) is more than US$1 billion. The two countries also have institutionalised co-operation in areas of investment, customs, health, defence, agriculture, education, air service, tourism and culture. Bangladesh and Turkey co-operate with each other at the multilateral forum, particularly in matters related to elections. In the recent years, Turkey and Bangladesh have supported each other in several forums, including at the ITU, IMO, CEDAW, HRC, etc. Turkey would support Bangladesh's 2016–17 candidature to the UN Security Council while Bangladesh would support Turkey's 2015–16 candidature to the UNSC. Besides, at the UN and OIC, the two countries are also the founding members of the D-8 [Developing 8 Countries] with six other nations with large Muslim populations.

 United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates See Bangladesh–United Arab Emirates relations
 Yemen Republic of Yemen See Bangladesh–Yemen relations

Africa[edit]

Bangladesh's presence in Africa is mostly due to their large contribution to the peacekeeping forces present around the continent such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Sudan (Darfur) and Somalia. Bangladesh can foster ties based on its history such as nations in Southeast Africa where there is a South Asian population (whose ancestors immigrated there during the British Empire). In countries such as Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, Bangladeshi peacekeepers have been honoured. It is currently trying to increase ties with the southern economic bloc in Southern Africa with nations such as Zimbabwe.[77]

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Algeria People's Democratic Republic of Algeria See Algeria–Bangladesh relations
 Botswana Republic of Botswana See Bangladesh–Botswana relations
 Egypt Arab Republic of Egypt See Bangladesh–Egypt relations

Bangladesh and Egypt share views on international policies such as the occupation of Palestine and both being members of D-8, OIC and the Like Minded Group has helped to strengthen relations. Trade volume between the two countries was US$55 million in 2008–09. Bangladesh primarily buys fertiliser, iron, steel, and mining products from Egypt and sells mainly textiles. A small number of Bangladeshi students study in Egypt under its scholarship program.[78]

 Gambia Republic of the Gambia See Bangladesh–Gambia relations
 Ghana Republic of Ghana See Bangladesh–Ghana relations
 Ivory Coast Republic of Côte d'Ivoire See Bangladesh–Ivory Coast relations
 Kenya Republic of Kenya See Bangladesh–Kenya relations
 Liberia Republic of Liberia See Bangladesh–Liberia relations
 Libya State of Libya See Bangladesh–Libya relations

Relations between the two were non-existent due to the refusal to recognise Bangladesh and granting asylum to some of those who assassinated Sheikh Mujib. After Bangladesh began sending its diplomats to the Arab world such as Libya to explain their view of the war, they immediately recognised and established diplomatic relations with Bangladesh. Bangladesh opened its embassy in Tripoli on 8 January 1975.

Cooperation between the two countries is primarily in international forums such as the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Bangladesh has expressed interest in increased economic ties, and specifically in exporting pharmaceutical products to Libya. Bangladesh has asked Libya to ease visa restrictions for Bangladesh nationals and to take in more manpower. Apart from labourers there are also Bangladeshis working in professional occupations increasing people to people links. Bangladesh has also welcomed Libyan students to study engineering and medical degrees at their universities.[79]

Bangladesh is an accredited mission to Tunisia and Malta and uses its embassy in Libya to communicate with those countries.

 Malawi Republic of Malawi See Bangladesh–Malawi relations
 Mali Republic of Mali See Bangladesh–Mali relations
 Mauritius Republic of Mauritius See Bangladesh–Mauritius relations
 Namibia Republic of Namibia See Bangladesh–Namibia relations
 Nigeria Federal Republic of Nigeria See Bangladesh–Nigeria relations

Nigeria and Bangladesh established diplomatic relations in 1972, following the Bangladeshi war of independence from Pakistan. Both nations are members of the OIC and the Developing 8 Countries. Nigeria has a high commission in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

 Rwanda Republic of Rwanda See Bangladesh–Rwanda relations
 Senegal Republic of Senegal See Bangladesh–Senegal relations
 Sierra Leone Republic of Sierra Leone See Bangladesh–Sierra Leone relations
 South Africa Republic of South Africa See Bangladesh–South Africa relations

Relations began during the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994, and full diplomatic relations were implemented on 10 September 1994.

Due to the brutality and the White Supremacist ideology of the Apartheid regime, relations between South Africa and Bangladesh were non-existent until the collapse of white minority rule and Nelson Mandela's rise to power. There is a number of Bangladeshis which make up the South Asian community in South Africa and immigration still continues, although it has temporarily halted due to attacks against foreign workers.

Bangladesh exports its raw materials such as leather, jute,garments and textiles. South Africa exports to Bangladesh are iron ore, steel, aluminium, infrastructure projects, machinery and equipments for railways.

 Sudan Republic of the Sudan See Bangladesh–Sudan relations

Throughout the course of history, relations between Bangladesh and Sudan have been warm and smooth. Seeing as both nations share a common religion, relations are generally good, but only recently has co-operation began to increase between the two countries. In March 2008, both governments came to an agreement which would primarily allow Bangladesh to export semi-skilled and skilled workers and also the opportunity to allow Bangladeshi firms and companies to expand their operations to Africa's largest country by size which is now enjoying an oil boom regardless of the events occurring in Darfur since 2007. The relationship between Bangladesh and Sudan thickened as UN Peacekeeping Mission manned by the Bangladeshi military started to work in Sudan in 2007. Bangladesh agreed to send 1,600 of its personal and urgently needed helicopters to join the UN peacekeeping force in Darfur.[80][81][82] As part of the growing relationship, Bangladesh will open a full-fledged Diplomatic mission in Khartoum.[83] Relations have diverged into different areas such as education where Sudan has offered more scholarships to Bangladeshi students and recently Sudan has shown interest in importing pharmaceuticals from Bangladesh.[84]

 South Sudan Republic of South Sudan See Bangladesh–South Sudan relations

Bangladesh recognised South Sudan as a country . Bangladeshi peacekeepers played an important role in the UN missions in South Sudan.

 Swaziland Kingdom of Swaziland See Bangladesh–Swaziland relations
 Tanzania United Republic of Tanzania See Bangladesh–Tanzania relations

Like other countries in Southeast Africa, they share historical and religious ties to the former British Indian nations such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Tanzania has a South Asian community due to the immigration of Indian clerical workers to this part of Africa during the time of the British Empire.

Tanzania has recently decided to import pharmaceutical goods from a Bangladeshi company known as Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Tanzania was originally heavily dependent on India and other MNCs for medicines.[85]

 Uganda Republic of Uganda See Bangladesh–Uganda relations
 Zimbabwe Republic of Zimbabwe See Bangladesh–Zimbabwe relations

Europe[edit]

European countries, particularly from Scandinavia, provide significant economic assistance to Bangladesh.

European UnionBangladesh

Bangladesh's relations with the European Union and its member states remained a priority area in the foreign policy context. A number of achievements were made in the economic field during that brief period. At present EU is the top export destination of Bangladesh's products (48% of the total product). The International Jute Study Group—which comprises the EU, Bangladesh, and India—is established in Dhaka. Bangladesh successfully participated in World Apparel Fair, European Seafood Exposition, Bangladesh Trade Show in Moscow and Kiev.

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Austria Republic of Austria See Austria–Bangladesh relations
 Belarus Republic of Belarus See Bangladesh–Belarus relations
 Bulgaria Republic of Bulgaria See Bangladesh–Bulgaria relations
 Croatia Republic of Croatia See Bangladesh–Croatia relations
 Cyprus Republic of Cyprus See Bangladesh–Cyprus relations
 Denmark Kingdom of Denmark See Bangladesh–Denmark relations

Denmark have an embassy in Dhaka. Bangladesh is represented through its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. Bangladesh has been part of the Danish development assistance since its independence in 1971. Danish development helps Bangladesh with transport, water transport, agriculture, fisheries and rural development.

Denmark supports Human Rights and Civil Society in Bangladesh. In 1975, an agreement on boat building and mechanisation was signed. In 1978, both countries signed an agreement on a fish marketing scheme.

 France French Republic See Bangladesh–France relations

France and Bangladesh share an amicable relationship. In 1991, France cancelled Bangladesh's public debt (FRF 598M) as a gesture of goodwill. Trade between the two remains in Bangladesh's favour with France being its fourth biggest customer in 2005 (5.9% of Bangladeshi exports). France has many direct investments in the country such as the Lafarge cement plant[86] in Chatak and has recently shown interest in aiding Bangladesh with the development of a nuclear power plant for civilian purposes.

 Germany Federal Republic of Germany See Bangladesh–Germany relations

After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, East Germany was the third country in the world, and the first country in Europe, to officially recognise Bangladesh in 1972.[87] Bangladesh also warmly greeted German reunification. As an economic power as well as an important member of the European Union (EU), Germany is a reliable partner of Bangladesh in development co-operation. Since independence, German churches and numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs) made tremendous efforts to promote the social and economic development of Bangladesh. German assistance to Bangladesh is received in the form of development efforts, trade and cultural co-operation. Both countries have a long and successful bilateral relationship on most international issues. Germany always emphasises the democratic characteristics, governance issues and development process of Bangladesh.

After establishment of diplomatic relations, the bilateral relations between the two countries began to grow steadily. Between the start of development co-operation in 1972 and the end of 2005, Bangladesh received approximately €2.3 billion in commitments from Germany as part of bilateral financial and technical co-operation, in addition to the funds provided by the German churches and NGOs. At an intergovernmental negotiation in 2005, Bangladesh received €14 million in new commitments from Germany. Since 1978, all German funds provided as part of government level co-operation have been in the form of non-repayable grants.

Bangladesh is a priority partner country of German Development Cooperation (GTZ). By an agreement between both the government adopted in May 2004, the activities of the GTZ focus on three priority areas such as healthcare including family planning, economic reform and development of the market system through promotion of private sector, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and renewable energies. Among the other ongoing projects the promotion of legal and social empowerment of women in Bangladesh is also to be mentioned. The sustainable economic development program of GTZ in Bangladesh contributes to the competitiveness of the ready-made garments (RMG) sector, as well as other export-oriented sectors like silk, leather and jute.

In trade with Germany, Bangladesh has for years recorded a large surplus. Germany is the second largest export market of Bangladesh after the US. Bangladesh exports in Germany in 2006 amounted to €1.56 billion as compared with Bangladesh imports in the same period of only €305 million. About 94% of the exports from Bangladesh to Germany are RMGs and Bangladesh imports mainly comprising machinery, chemical and electrical goods, and medicines. A German-Bangladeshi investment promotion and protection agreement has been in force since 1986 and a bilateral double taxation accord since 1993. So far German direct investments in Bangladesh are almost €60 million. The Bangladesh-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) acts as a business platform and mediator between both the countries.

The cultural relationship of both the countries is very strong. The cultural co-operation between them is mainly channelled through the Goethe Institute that work on developing the cultural ties between both the countries by sponsoring local and German cultural activities. Bangladesh has traditional and historical connection with Germany. There is a century-old exchange between German and Bengali people. German interest in the culture of Bengal dates back to the visits to Germany by the Bengali national poet and Nobel laureate for literature Rabindranath Tagore in the 1920s and 1930s. Many Bangladeshi intellectuals take a keen and informed interest in German literature, art, architecture and philosophy. In Bangladesh Goethe Institute is the main meeting place for all those interested in Germany.

Goethe-Institute Dhaka with headquarters in Munich offers a broad variety of cultural events to present the German culture in Bangladesh through its main activities by film-workshops, film-presentations, seminars and lectures on socio-political subjects as well as on aspects on contemporary arts, theatre performances, and exhibitions of German and Bangladeshi artists.

Bangladesh has traditional and historical connection with Germany, and both the countries enjoy closest ties. There are increasing contracts amongst German and Bangladeshi artists, primarily in the fine arts, photography/film and theatre. Bangladeshi artists have been able to exhibit in German galleries and museums. A number of visual artists from Bangladesh have also made Germany their new home. Germany continues to promote the restoration of historical monuments, archaeological research and the unique legacy of the Bengali catamarans. Since 1981, a co-operation agreement has been in place between Radio Bangladesh and Deutsche Welle (DW).

The bilateral commercial and trade interests of both the countries are continuing, although there is considerable scope for greater engagement. Bilateral relations got some momentum by several high level visits, contracts, and political and economic dialogue. In December 2000, the then head of the government of Bangladesh officially visited Germany. In February 2004, a German nine-member parliamentary delegation also visited Bangladesh.

Both Germany and Bangladesh share common views on various international issues and work together in the UN and in other international forum. They have maintained and developed close and friendly relations in a wide range of field. The two countries are harmonised together by their commitment to various sectors mutually agreed upon, which is expected to be strengthened further in future.

 Greece Hellenic Republic See Bangladesh–Greece relations
 Holy See Holy See See Bangladesh–Holy See relations

Relations are primarily based on the Roman Catholic community in Bangladesh who claim to have at least 221,000 adherents out of the total 600,000 Christians living in the country. Relations are good and some Bangladeshis travel to Vatican City especially on special occasions such as the inauguration of the new Pope.[citation needed] The Holy See has an Apostolic Nunciature (equivalent to an embassy) located in Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka.

 Hungary Hungary See Bangladesh–Hungary relations
 Iceland Iceland See Bangladesh–Iceland relations
 Ireland Republic of Ireland See Bangladesh–Ireland relations
 Latvia Republic of Latvia See Bangladesh–Latvia relations
 Luxembourg Grand Duchy of Luxembourg See Bangladesh–Luxembourg relations
 Italy Italian Republic See Bangladesh–Italy relations

Relations between two countries have been wonderful. Bangladesh is a huge import market for Italy. Italy has an embassy in Dhaka. Bangladesh has an Embassy in Rome. Relations have been warm. Italy is one of the biggest export partner of Bangladesh.

 Kosovo Republic of Kosovo See Bangladesh–Kosovo relations

Bangladesh recognised the Republic of Kosovo as indipendente state on 27 February 2017.[88]

 Poland Republic of Poland See Bangladesh–Poland relations
 Portugal Portuguese Republic See Bangladesh–Portugal relations
 Russia Russian Federation See Bangladesh–Russia relations

Relations can be traced back to 1971 during the independence war when the Soviet Union sympathised with the Mukti Bahini cause and offered their assistance in the conflict. Although the start of their relations were very favourable, Bangladesh and Russia's relations have fluctuated greatly from extremely warm during the early 1970s to an all-time low during the 1980s (attributed to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan). After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Bangladesh established ties with all the former Soviet Republics including Russia and began diversifying into other areas such as education, cultural, military and energy.

 Serbia Republic of Serbia See Bangladesh–Serbia relations
 Slovakia Slovak Republic See Bangladesh–Slovakia relations
 Spain Kingdom of Spain See Bangladesh–Spain relations
 Ukraine Ukraine See Bangladesh–Ukraine relations
 United Kingdom United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) See Bangladesh–United Kingdom relations and British Bangladeshi

The ties between Britain and Bangladesh date back to the British Raj. During the Bangladesh Liberation War Britain offered shelter to diplomats and people who escaped the conflict. The government, politicians and the media were also critical of the atrocities and shown empathy for the Mukti Bahini. On 4 February 1972 Britain recognised Bangladesh, this eventually led to recognition from other European and Commonwealth nations and Bangladesh's induction into the Commonwealth on 18 April 1972. Britain holds the largest Bangladeshi diaspora in the western world, now numbered at around 500,000, most of them can trace their ties to the region of Sylhet. Britain also holds the largest open air Asian festival in Europe called Baishakhi Mela, a Bangladeshi event held in London.

There has been numerous delegation visits since Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home visited Bangladesh in June 1972. The first visit by a prime minister was James Callaghan in 1978. Other prime ministers who had visited Bangladesh are John Major in a 3-day visit in January 1997 and Tony Blair in 2002. Presidents and Prime Ministers of Bangladesh such as Sheikh Mujib, Ziaur Rahman and Fakhruddin Ahmed have visited the UK.

In March 2008, Fakhruddin Ahmed had visited Number 10 to discuss increasing British investment and co-operation in defence and trade, especially on counter-terrorism and duty-free access for LDCs.[89] Britain is the largest foreign investor in Bangladesh and the third biggest export destination for Bangladeshi goods after US and Germany.

At the 7th ISS Asia Security Summit (also known as Shangri-La Dialogue) in Singapore, Bangladesh's Foreign advisor Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury met with UK's Defence Minister Des Browne at the sidelines to discuss security and defence relations between the two countries. Browne says he hoped that Bangladesh's modernising values can reach the Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK.[90]

North America[edit]

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Canada Canada See Bangladesh–Canada relations and Bangladeshi Canadian

Relations between the two countries are positive and there are approximately 24,595 Canadians of Bangladeshi origin living in Canada.

 Cuba Republic of Cuba See Bangladesh–Cuba relations
 Haiti Republic of Haiti See Bangladesh–Haiti relations
 Mexico United Mexican States 8 July 1975 See Bangladesh–Mexico relations
  • Bangladesh has an embassy in Mexico City.[91]
  • Mexico is accredited to Bangladesh from its embassy in New Delhi, India.[92]
 Panama Republic of Panama See Bangladesh–Panama relations
 Trinidad and Tobago Republic of Trinidad and Tobago See Bangladesh–Trinidad and Tobago relations
 United States United States of America 4 April 1972 See Bangladesh–United States relations and Bangladeshi American

The United States is an aid donor to Bangladesh. It provides assistance during natural calamities. In the post 9/11 scenario, American policy-makers expressed support for moderation in Bangladesh. The US State Department voiced support for free elections before 2008 ends. Approximately 150,000 citizens are of Bangladeshi origin with the majority in professional jobs.

  • Bangladesh has an embassy in Washington, DC and has consulates-general in Los Angeles and New York City.[93]
  • United States has an embassy in Dhaka.[94]

South America[edit]

Country Country (Official Name) Formal Relations Began Notes
 Argentina Argentine Republic See Argentina–Bangladesh relations
 Brazil Federative Republic of Brazil See Bangladesh–Brazil relations

Bangladesh's only embassy in South America is located in Brazil. Trade is the primary part of their relations exporting raw materials such as metals from its open mines and importing pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh.[95]

 Chile Republic of Chile See Bangladesh–Chile relations
 Colombia Republic of Colombia See Bangladesh–Colombia relations
 Venezuela Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela See Bangladesh–Venezuela relations

Bangladesh and Venezuela have maintained good ties as both nations have begun increased communications with each other. In August 2006, Venezuela had asked Bangladesh for support for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council[96] although Venezuela was not successful due to the repeated deadlocks in the 2006 UN Security Council election.

Disputes – international[edit]

India[edit]

Pakistan[edit]

Myanmar[edit]

Allies[edit]

Bangladesh has long friendly relations with India,[103] China, Japan, Russia, United States, Malaysia, and South Korea.

Bangladesh had a border dispute with India and that got solved recently as both countries agreed to co-operate more and maintain friendly ties.[104]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]