Kathmandu, March 28 (Nepalniti) – Inaugurating the 3rd Nepal-Bangladesh Business Forum, jointly hosted by Embassy of Bangladesh and Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) in Kathmandu, Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun Ananta said that Bangladesh is going to be a huge market for Nepal’s hydropower as recent energy exchange related Memorandum of Understandings signed between the two countries.
Ms. Mashfee Binte Shams, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Nepal highlighted that both Nepal and Bangladesh is going through the social, economic and cultural transformation, hence, working together in this process will be fruitful for both the countries. Bangladesh is ready to work closely with Nepal on hydropower development and energy trade, Ambassador said.
Mr. Sunil KC, Founder of AIDIA traced a brief journey of NBBF summit which was first conceived and organized its first edition back in 2016. He also stressed on the some contribution of AIDIA for bringing the a billion dollar investment in hydropower successfully in Nepal. Mr. KC also highlighted the significance of Bangladesh invest investment in the birth place of Lord Buddha and Double Tax Avoidance Agreement done with Bangladesh making it easier for investors and promoting trade and commerce.
In the first session entitled ‘Strong Media Cooperation for Enhancing Bilateral Ties’, the Chair of the session highlighted on the importance of the media cooperation for strengthening bilateral ties. Mr. Madhu Raman Acharya, Former Foreign Secretary started with a shuttle comparison of how Bangladesh was before known as a basket case due to its poverty and undeveloped nature and how now it has successfully become an economic role model. He also explained how the bilateral relation has become stagnant and not moved beyond the imagined transformation and stressed on the increasing need towards the more bilateral business cooperation. Mr Acharya also focused that Nepal and Bangladesh need to focus on the soft sides of diplomacy vis-à-vis agreements, methodologies and trilateral cooperation and Media could play a key role for enhancing public diplomacy.
Mr. Narayan Wagle Editor-In-Chief of Kantipur Daily, said the people to people relation and communication with Bangladesh and Nepal is Next to null. Giving an example he said that “there are no permanent media correspondents of Nepal in Bangladesh and vice a versa.” He also suggested for the initiative like bilateral media Forum for regular interaction and better understanding of primary issues of bilateral relations.
Mr. Enamul Hoque Choudhary, Editor-in-Chief of Daily Sun, Bangladesh started with the independence of Bangladesh and it’s been 48 year since then but still no proper bilateral relation between these two countries has been properly executed. He also poised a very crucial question on “why the diplomats are not focusing on media cooperation?” and it is very disappointing fact to learn that yet Nepal and Bangladesh has formed the regional bilateral relation properly. He shades light on how it is essential on further exchange of culture, people, intellectuals and businessman and have a balanced relation between both the countries.
Mr. Madan Lamsal, Chief Editor, New Business Magazine stated that “media has a very huge role to play as it is the mirror to show the short comings and loopholes”. Nepal should learn from the success story of Bangladesh and importance of taking India on board as moving forward without a strong trilateral relation including India will lead us nowhere; this was our lesson from past experience, he added. Ms. Sama Thapa, Associate Editor, AP1 Television moderated the session.
In the second session entitled ‘Expanding Multimodal Connectivity for Mutual Economic Growth’, Mr. Madhusudan Adhikari, Secretary, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, stressed on the imperative of building the mutual trust for enhancing bilateral transport , transit and trade. Dr. Golam Rasul, Chief Economist, ICIMOD stressd on the connectivity is the key to prosperity and diversification of connectivity as strategic assets. He also highlighted that the trade volume between Nepal and Bangladesh is minimal in terms of potentiality and effective transportation infrastructure can enhance the bilateral trade. Inland waterways connectivity between Nepal-India and Bangladesh can be real booster from trade and commerce, he added. Dr. Rasul also said Nepal should benefit from Mongla port.
Dr. Surya Raj Acharya, Spokesperson Bibeksheel Sajha and infrastructure expert, utilizing diversity and minimizing geographical distance between countries. He also stressed institutional and software connectivity besides physical connectivity. Despite being naturally closer, manmade institutions creating the distance for closer cooperation, so there is the need of institutional reform, he added. Dr. Acharya said, trilateral cooperation between Nepal-India and Bangladesh can be beneficial.
Mr. Keshab Sharma, Deputy Director General, Department of Road, Nepal said that road connectivity infrastructure between Nepal and Bangladesh is progressing and utilization of Mongla and Chittagong port should be taken forward. He also stressed on including China in Nepal, India and Bangladesh connectivity initiative is important. Mr. Laxman Bahadur Basnet, Former Executive Director, Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board, said connectivity as a heart and life of economic growth and stressed on facilitating the lengthy boarder procedure for bilateral trade growth. Mr Shyam KC, Research and Development Director of AIDIA moderated the session.