Venue: Beijing, China
You Excellency the President of China Mr. Xi Jinping,
Distinguished Heads of State and Heads of Government present,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you at this Dialogue on Connectivity. Let me express my deep appreciation to the Government and the people of the People’s Republic of China for according me and the members of my delegation a most traditional Chinese hospitality. This is indeed a testimony to the deep friendship between our two peoples over centuries.
This Dialogue is timely. Today, the rationale and economics of connectivity is much compelling to ignore. Over the past one decade. the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed advancement in multi-modal connectivity among the sub-regions. Deepening connectivity has subsequently contributed to economic integration among the Asian sub-regions.
Bangladesh approaches ‘connectivity’ in a wider sense that it deserves. We believe that connectivity needs to be viewed in an all-encompassing sense, we are to connect and create bridges for ideas, knowledge, culture, transportation by road-rail-air, technology, movement of people, goods, services and investment. There, creation of optimum level of physical connectivity can serve as an initial and necessary condition.
Being located in South Asia and between China and India, South and South-East Asia, Bangladesh provides the critical connect in respect of the Trans-Asian Railway and Asian Highway. At the same time, being founding members of two regional cooperation processes in our own region – SAARC and BIMSTEC - Bangladesh is also at the centre of the key sub-regional frameworks called SAARC Regional Multi-modal Transport Study and BIMSTEC Transport & Logistic Study. Bangladesh is deeply engaged with development partners to gradually materialize the sub-regional gateways, measures and infrastructure. These will connect and integrate Bangladesh with its neighbouring Nepal, Bhutan and Indian East and North-east as also will provide seamless connectivity with contiguous Indian landscape on the west and the integrating economic landscape under ASEAN.
In the recent times, we also see Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar working together at Track One level to shape up the BCIM-EC process. The wider connectivity that I underlined is what Bangladesh aspires to accomplish through BCIM-EC process. For China, BCIM-EC will help revive the ancient southern silk road. For other countries, the BCIM-EC connectivity would unlock fragile eco-system, offer improved livelihood options and create pathways for sustainable development of an impoverished economic landscape. In other words, the physical linkages connect territories and communities. In the case of BCIM-EC, it has the potential to open up opportunities for social and economic progress for millions of poor and marginal communities and ethnicities.
I flag this aspect since this is a crucial agenda that countries may miss out. Physical connectivity is to augment production and mobility of goods and services through global and regional supply chains as also to secure well-being, dignity and right to development. This is also central to achieving sustainable development within and among societies and nations. Therefore, ensuring peace and stability and creating path for progress through ‘development’ of each person is as valued as increasing overall economic activities through greater connectivity. Bangladesh would stress for us to appreciate this bottom-up view to development.
In order to make physical connectivity truly beneficial and sustainable, there has to be accompanying visible and sustained improvement in the lives and livelihoods of majority at the bottom. Bangladesh would stress that our collective efforts and investments in development of connectivity should be tailored and routed as such.
There is another important dimension to the development of connectivity. Within the sub-regions in Asia-Pacific, countries are at diverse levels of economic development. Endowment and capacity of countries also vary, often significantly. We have countries that are LDCs, LLDCs and climate vulnerable. At the same time, opening up of economies and societies through economic integration naturally lead to re-alignment in the synergies and economics of manufacturing and distribution across borders. Quite often, such reality raise apprehension for the lesser endowed countries. Therefore, in the enterprise of development of connectivity and gradual integration of economic structures and processes, the realities, circumstances and needed support for the less developed countries must be taken into account. Finally, all enterprises would need to be planned and undertaken based on the principles of mutual respect, trust, mutual benefit and equitable sharing of mutual benefits.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Chinese economy is fast reaching out to the world – much beyond what we have known till recently. Bangladesh draws important lessons from China’s growth story. We have always believed in and pursued open regionalism. We remain keen to connect our own ports and growth nodes to our own sub-region; and provide the natural gateway between the Far East and South-East Asia to South Asia and beyond. Bangladesh would take this opportunity to assure all of her sincere engagement in this enterprise.
Let us therefore strive - individually and collectively - for the common good.
I thank you all.
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