Dhaka expects four to five agreements and MoUs to be signed during the visit
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Brunei later this month is expected to boost trade ties with the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) country, according to foreign ministry officials.
PM Hasina is likely to leave for the small nation, located on the northern part of Borneo island, in the last week of April.
Dhaka expects four to five agreements and memoranda of understanding to be signed during the visit, at such a time when Brunei is going to impose death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from April 3 as part of the country’s highly criticized implementation of Sharia law.
People in the tiny kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.
However, a foreign ministry official said: “We expect to have a good visit as there will be a breakthrough in energy and migration cooperation between the two countries.”
The prime minister will have a bilateral meeting with Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, as well as other engagements, said the official, asking not to be named.
During the visit, instruments on energy cooperation, agriculture cooperation, visa waiver for diplomatic and official passport holders and other areas are expected to be signed.
Brunei has expertise in the energy field and Bangladesh aims to sign an agreement on offshore oil and gas exploration.
After the settlement of maritime boundary dispute with India and Myanmar, Bangladesh has sovereign authority over a huge area in the Bay of Bengal which is yet to be tapped, a foreign ministry official said.
“If any Brunei company, in collaboration with Petrobangla and Bapex, goes for exploration, it would benefit both the countries,” the official said.
Brunei is interested in investing in the agriculture sector as it relies heavily on imported farm products.
Another official said: “They have shown interest in cattle farming and (food) processing industry and already contacted potential private sector investors here.”
Dhaka expects an MoU on agriculture cooperation to be signed during the visit, the official said.
About 16,000 Bangladeshis are currently working in the affluent country where demand for nurses is growing.
Another official said, “Qualified nurses with proper English knowledge are of huge demand in Brunei and we have some very good nursing institutions here.”
“This is an area where we can have cooperation, in addition to traditional migration.”