On June 06, 2017 the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Md. ShahriarAlalm, MP, engaged in a panel discussion at the 23rd International Conference on “Future of Asia” organized by the Nikkei Corporation.The panel discussion was centered on the role of South Asia as a hotspot of global growth and opportunities. The State Minister in his opening remarks highlighted that Bangladesh had been striving hard to become a middle income ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021 and a developed nation by 2041. Citing the steady growth rate of more than 6% on an average during the last decade, he mentioned that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh HasinaBangladesh was approaching towards the goal of building a “Shonar Bangla” envisioned by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Indicating the geo-strategic location of Bangladesh, he mentioned that the country is a gateway for the South and the Southeast Asia. He went on to mention that South Asia offered a market of 1.7 billion people, which is quite substantial for any business to sustain profitably. He informed the audience that Bangladesh was developing 100 Economic Zones, which will offer exclusive investment opportunities for foreign investors.
During his intervention, the State Minister stressed on the importance of strong regional cooperation among the countries of South Asia. Citing the example of intra-regional trade of ASEAN, which is more than 25% of ASEAN’s total trade, he informed that intra-regional trade of SAARC was only about 5%. He mentioned that Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan were already taking special initiative to enhance connectivity among the countries and expected that if the markets in the region could be effectively connected, growth potentials of the region would increase manifold. He particularly mentioned the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to reestablish the pre-1965 connectivity among the countries of the region.
Several high dignitaries and leaders, including the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Prime Minister of Laos, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Foreign Minister of Mongolia, Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad,former Prime Minister of Singapore GohChok Tong attended the Conference.
On the sideline of the Conference, the State Minister met the Secretary General of ASEAN, Le Luong Minh and the National Security Adviser of Myanmar, Thaung Tun.