The second Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) between Bangladesh and Nepal was held on 08 October 2017 in Dhaka. Foreign Secretary, Md. Shahidul Haque, led a ten-member Bangladesh delegation while his counterpart, the Foreign Secretary of Nepal Shanker Das Bairagi, led a nine-member delegation. Relevant Ministries of Bangladesh and Nepal including Ministries of Energy/Power, Commerce/Trade and Higher Education were represented in the respective delegation. The first FOC was also held in Dhaka in July 2012.
In the meeting, major focus was given on the issues of bilateral trade, connectivity, power and energy cooperation, higher education and human resource development. Both the Foreign Secretaries agreed that the bilateral trade volume is still far below the potential. They agreed on examining existing tariffs, and removal of non-tariff barriers and para-tariff measures to enhance bilateral trade. They also agreed on exchange of trade delegations, organization of trade fairs/exhibitions, Single Country Trade Fair etc. It was also agreed during the meeting that the pending MoUs on Bilateral Trade Promotion and Protection Agreement, Bilateral Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation between the two countries would be finalized soon. Nepal also agreed to hold the Commerce Secretary Level Talks in Kathmandu at the earliest.
Both sides recognized that operationalization of BBIN MVA agreement will further flourish the trade and people-to-people connectivity in the region. However, taking note that the Agreement is yet to come into force pending ratification by Bhutan, both sides agreed to discuss with India the modalities for early implementation of the Agreement. To promote bilateral trade, investment and tourism, they also emphasized on establishing multimodal connectivity including railway and air connectivity between the two countries. They stressed on the regular holding of Joint Working Groups under sub-regional cooperation involving India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan for mutual benefit.
During the meeting, the two Foreign Secretaries also emphasized on comprehensive engagement and further cooperation between the two countries in the areas of power sector cooperation, tourism, culture and people-to-people contact, etc. to widen and deepen a more engaging and result-oriented relationship.
Considering the request of the Nepalese Foreign secretary, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary assured to allocate two seats annually for the Nepalese junior diplomats in the Foreign Service Academy of Bangladesh to undertake specialized diplomatic training course which was highly appreciated by the Nepalese side.
Both the Foreign Secretaries also discussed regional issues of mutual interest. Referring to the humanitarian crisis relating to the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals, the Foreign Secretary of Nepal applauded the role of Bangladesh Government in handling the situation by saying ‘Bangladesh has shown the greatest sense of humanity’. Referring to the Nepalese Prime Minister’s speech at the 72nd UNGA, he also added that forcible eviction of people is a serious crime against humanity.
The Meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere. The Foreign Secretary of Nepal expressed his deep appreciation to the Government of Bangladesh for the warm hospitality extended to him and the members of his delegation.