The Foreign Policy of Bangladesh

The foreign policy of any state is the framework within which the country interacts with the outside world. It is conducted for protecting and promoting the vital national interests.

The parameters of these national interests are defined by the body politic of the country. In a sense foreign policy is an integra! constituent of domestic policies as it attempts to advance its broad national objectives through interaction with the world beyond its borders.

Bangladesh is a small state. Being a small state, risks and threats to her are much more than to larger states. The major threats that such a small state faces are geographical security, economic security, environmental sustainability and social cohesion. For us foreign policy is a tool to lessen our vulnerability to such factors. Practically our attempt should be to exploit all opportunities that may be available internationally for the social and economic development of our country.

Formative stage of Bangladesh

Bangladesh emerged as an independent state following a nine month long war of independence. With the attainment of liberation came numerous problems afflicting the country severely. Our infrastructure was shattered, our ports were non-functional due to sunken ships and bridges and roads had been damaged. We had to worry about the resettlement and rehabilitation of ten lacs of refugees who returned from India.

For sometime there were reservations in many countries about our ability to survive as a sovereign nation. The countries that befriended us in the early stages emerged as our main trading partners and those were also the countries with which we developed close contacts.

Bangladesh constitution and foreign policy

Article 25 in our constitution points clearly the foreign policy of Bangladesh. Its main aim is respect for national sovereignty and equality, peaceful settlement of international disputes and respect for international laws and principles enunciated in the UN charter. In 1973 Bangladesh joined the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1974 we gained two developments.

The first one was our joining the OIC summit in Lahore and the second one was Bangladesh's membership of the UNITED NATIONS. In 1975 we established relations with Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia. In 1979 Bangladesh contested for membership of Security Council and the world community voted for us.

Bangladesh Bilateral relation with different countries

During our War of Independence India provided moral and material support. At present she has emerged as an important trading partner for Bangladesh. Despite some unresolved issues we have established bilateral relation with Pakistan. During the War of Independence the US did not support us.

At present the US has become our most important trading partner. The US companies have entered our oil and gas sectors. It also imports our garments. China's involvement has mostly been in military co- operations.

Chinese firms are getting more and more involved in Bangladesh. They have won numerous contracts and are raising their economic profile here. At present Japan has become the largest bilateral development partner of Bangladesh extending both grants and loans.

The Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge involves a large component of Japanese assistance. During our present govt. we have extended our relationship to China, Thailand, Korea and other South Asian countries and many Muslim countries of the world.

Bangladesh Relation with international organisations

Bangladesh has taken initiatives in SAARC, BIMST-EC, D-8 and other economic groupings. Bangladesh has become member of almost every UN agencies and actively participated in their agencies. In UN peace keepking operations she has provided armed forces in many countries of the world. As co-ordinator for the LDC's Bangladesh is taking leading roles in co-ordinating many activities of least developed countries. The basic purpose of all these is to derive advantage of economic and other co- operations. Bangladesh is making all-out efforts through her embassies in attracting FDI for industrial and other developments of the country.

Bangladesh Development in private sectors

Bangladesh had to depend on foreign aid for long years. But its economy began to change in the past few years. Within a span of twenty years garments and knitwear industry has emerged as the most important channel of export employing more than one million workers. So beside foreign direct investment private capital flows are vital and promotion of private sector export has become an important element of our foreign policy.

Two dominant features of the present world are democracy and capitalism. They are both constructive and destructive. Our foreign policy should be to gather all external opportunities that will help us regulate democracy and capitalism so that our interest can be advanced lessening the unfavourable impacts.

Our government's objective is to raise the living standard of our people. For this peace at home and abroad is fundamental prerequisite. Equally important is to harness all our energies to use our resources and experience to achieve this noble objective. We require to create the fundamental links that will enable us to project our interests to the world at large.

We have to exploit every available opportunity in the international arena that may be beneficial for us in one national objective. We often derive satisfaction from our achievements but much more remains to be done.
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