Brazilian foreign minister's visit should invigorate Bangladesh-Brazil ties

Brazil and Bangladesh have the potential for cooperation in a variety of industries, including agriculture, textiles, technology, and renewable energy, despite their physical distance from one another.

Md Tanvir Rahman Apr 20, 2024
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Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira in Dhaka

Bangladesh has been pursuing its "peaceful foreign policy" for maintaining positive bilateral ties with every nation, which has undoubtedly contributed to many of our diplomatic achievements over the years. The recent two-day visit by Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira to Dhaka (April 7-8) provided a chance to strengthen our connections with the country of South America ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's July visit to Brazil. 

Not long after the country's independence announcement on December 16, 1971, Brazil established diplomatic ties with Bangladesh on 15th May 1972. Brazil's footballing fame has made it a popular name in Bangladesh. The relationship now has to evolve into bilateral, all-encompassing relationships that go beyond football.

Following the January 7, 2024, parliamentary election in Bangladesh, Brazil congratulated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her election win and stated that it was ready to keep strengthening ties for the benefit of both nations' development, the advancement of South-South cooperation, and the battle against poverty, hunger, and the climate crisis. It is worth noting that Brazilian President Lulu and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina decided to enhance collaboration in several areas, including commerce, cattle, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and information and communications technology (ICT), during the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg last year. The Lula-Hasina Johannesburg summit strengthened the already strong bonds between the two outstanding leaders. 

The visit by Mauro Vieira has now become a significant event in the two nations' bilateral ties. Brazil and Bangladesh had fruitful talks on multilateral cooperation, international and regional efforts, and bilateral relations between Dhaka and Brasilia during his visit. He had meetings with Dr. Hasan Mahmud and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In addition to strengthening all-encompassing bilateral agreements, his visit will open the door for high-level discussions between the two nations. 

Enormous potential 

The significance of enhancing collaboration and exchanges in the fields of agriculture, livestock, research, technology, innovation, education, climate change, and energy transition, and technical cooperation was deliberated by Brazilian counterpart Mauro Vieira and Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud. They also spoke on Brazil's investments in the IT sector and economic zone of Bangladesh, which will allow Brazilian companies to access the roughly two billion people in the region. The two foreign ministers decided to keep up their collaboration in the fight against environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change.

Following their talks, the two foreign ministers signed a deal on Brazil-Bangladesh technical cooperation. The ministers praised the quick rise in trade between Bangladesh and Brazil, which has exceeded two billion dollars in the last two years, and noted the enormous potential for business, trade promotion, and investment prospects between the two nations.

A robust conclusion of a MERCOSUR-Bangladesh Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) could enhance business opportunities and foster private sector engagements between Bangladesh, Brazil, and the other MERCOSUR State Parties, significantly contributing to the promotion of South-South Cooperation.  The MERCOSUR-Bangladesh Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) will improve new quality of economic ties between Bangladesh, Brazil, and other MERCOSUR State Parties. The Brazilian foreign minister praised Bangladesh's strong desire to reach this agreement. They declared their intention to strive for the earliest possible start of the PTA negotiation process.

Reports state that the Brazilian foreign minister addressed business leaders in Bangladesh at FBCCI, leading a sizable corporate delegation, and focused on some important issues, mostly about cooperation in the fields of sports, agriculture, and defense. To promote trade, investment, and deeper collaboration in areas of shared interest, both parties may look into ways to improve their trade relations.

This is a really good thing since trade and commerce are the two pillars that have largely supported our bilateral prosperity. To ensure Bangladesh's continued success long into the future, strong bilateral connections as well as increasing trade and investment with other countries are exactly what the country needs at this point in its development.

Development partner

In an attempt to accomplish this goal, Brazil and Bangladesh should sign a bilateral trade agreement and it is hoped that Dhaka-Brasilia will sign the business treaty during PM Hasina’s Brazil visit. After all, free trade is the best means by which economies, particularly developing ones like our own, can grow over time. Brazil has consistently demonstrated a desire to advance trade relations with Bangladesh over the years.

If the world has learned anything over the last several years, it is that friendly collaboration is the only path to prosperity for any country. Bangladesh has always been eager to befriend any pleasant country, and our foreign policy is essentially based on the idea of "friendship towards all, malice towards none." Brazil is rapidly emerging as a significant development partner for Bangladesh; given our aspirational goals for the next years, we must encourage the pursuit of more of these objectives.

Bangladesh imports more than $2 billion worth of goods, mostly soy, cotton, soybean oil, and sugar. About $200 million worth of ready-made clothing is exported. Bangladesh is the world's second-biggest cotton importer, while Brazil is the world's fourth-largest cotton grower and second-top exporter. The cornerstone of these connections should be collaboration in cotton. Bangladesh, however, is not granted duty-free access to the Brazilian market.  However, as Bangladesh is expected to exit the LDC category by 2026, duty-free access to the Brazilian market should be granted this time. Bangladeshi ready-made clothing should have duty-free market access in Brazil. Brazil and Bangladesh have the potential for cooperation in a variety of industries, including agriculture, textiles, technology, and renewable energy, despite their physical distance from one another.

Enhanced bilateral collaboration may provide political and economic advantages for both countries. Bangladesh offers 100 economic zones that are attractive for Brazilian businesses to invest in.  Brazil is an important G20 and BRICS member. Bangladesh is interested in using both of the global forums. The next G20 Summit will take place in November in Rio de Janeiro. Moreover, people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges may strengthen the bonds between the two countries.

(The author is a postgraduate student at the Department of Journalism, Media, and Communication, Daffodil International University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Views are personal. He can be contacted at tanvir24-718@diu.edu.bd )

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