Bangladesh-Mexico Relations: Unleashing New Possibilities

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With the spirit of friendship and sheer interest, Bangladesh and Mexico decide to harness their untapped potential resources covering the entire gamut of cooperation economic, diplomatic, and cultural domains. In this regard, Mexico will soon build an embassy in Dhaka this year as the Latin American country seeks to strengthen diplomatic and commercial ties in light of Bangladesh’s expanding economy and importance in local and international affairs. The Mexican ambassador to Bangladesh, Federico Salas, was in Dhaka to submit himself to President Abdul Hamid and hand over his credentials.

The decision to establish an embassy in Bangladesh will result in a deeper than ever-before rapprochement between the two countries. The meeting focused on the economy and trade, exchanges between Foreign Service academies, bilateral cooperation in culture, gender equality, defense, and tourism, as well as visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports, but it also covered the full range of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Mexico.

At a meeting, both parties reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to exploring new possibilities for strengthening their already cordial bilateral relationship. Last but not least, the Mexican side responded favourably to the Bangladeshi side’s suggestion to expand military cooperation and exchange its extensive tourist industry knowledge. Against such a backdrop, this article tries to look at the new possibilities between these two countries in light of recent developments.

Four years after Bangladesh’s declaration of independence, on July 8, 1975, diplomatic ties between Mexico and Bangladesh were formally established. Both countries advocate for human rights, peace, and stability which lay the foundation of a robust bilateral relationship. On the international front, Mexico and Bangladesh worked together to advance migrant rights, and they may continue to do so through the G20 to amplify the voices of the developing world.

Economically, since its diplomatic post in Mexico opened in 2012, Bangladesh’s exports to that country have increased. Although the bilateral connection between Mexico and Bangladesh is expanding recently, the two countries’ interactions are still mostly multilateral, particularly at the UN. Two-way commerce has increased by 100% to a little over $500 million during the last five years, which has given it momentum. Mexico now sells cotton to Bangladesh and purchases textiles from that country, but it is seeking to expand its exports to include pharmaceuticals and IT goods. A vast range of goods is produced in Mexico, including bovine hides and skins that have been tanned or crusted, as well as textiles, car components, dried fruits, shrimp from the ocean, and fisheries like shrimp.

Diplomatically, By sending a 39-member military contingent to the 200th Anniversary Celebration of Mexican Independence at the National Palace in Mexico City, Bangladesh has already expressed interest in the event. According to the Mexican side, their nation would return Bangladesh’s favour by sending a military delegation to Dhaka to take part in the next Victory Day celebration in December of next year.

Culturally, On September 30, 2022, Bangladesh and Mexico signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation, ushering in a new era in bilateral relations between the two nations. Additionally, the MOU will promote literary translation, and cross-cultural collaboration in the performing, visual, and literary arts, as well as participation in festivals, book fairs, and other cross-national cultural events.

Bangladesh is currently praised as a “South Asian miracle” after being called a “bottomless basket” in the past. Bangladesh is very proactive in discrete multinational platforms. Bangladesh’s overall development growth has been sheered by various international reports Bangladesh’s influence on the global stage is growing every day as its economy soars and the balance of power shifts eastward. Mexico is well aware of this prospect and has already started taking measures to improve its relations with Bangladesh.

From Bangladesh’s side, there is a growing urge for diversification which creates compulsions for Bangladesh in the strategic and diplomatic domain. According to the International Monetary Fund, Mexico has the 15th-largest nominal GDP and the 13th-largest purchasing power parity in the world. Mexico has prospects for India to expand its foreign commerce and investment as well as engage in global cooperation. Mexico offers Bangladesh a prosperous economic potential as well because it is a member of MERCOSUR. Thus, Bangladesh can explore new markets and investment opportunities after its forthcoming graduation from LDC in 2026.

Both nations place a strong emphasis on expanding their economic connections and their bilateral and international collaboration. These include establishing institutional frameworks for routine political consultations between the two countries at the level of the Foreign Office; agreements on bilateral trade and economic cooperation; agreements on scientific and technical cooperation; and agreements on the exclusion of visa requirements for those who hold diplomatic or official passports.

Mexican businesses may investigate their options for investing in Bangladesh. Mexico is mainly focusing on the import of pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh. According to research by Dublin-based market intelligence and analysis firm, Research and Markets, Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry is anticipated to reach $6 billion by 2025, representing an absolute rise of 114% from its 2019 levels. Hence, both parties express a desire to deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation in this area.

Mexico is keen to increase its military cooperation and exchange its military knowledge. The underlying reason is the firm position of Bangladesh in the recently published global military might index. The Military Strength Ranking 2021 by Global Firepower places Bangladesh as the third most powerful military force in South Asia and the 45th most powerful overall out of 138 nations. A team from Bangladesh’s military attended the 200th-anniversary festivities of Mexico’s independence in 2021, as did one from Mexico for the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.

In order to strengthen bilateral ties in the people-to-people domain Mexico sought to concentrate on cultural exchange and interpersonal contact. Mexican cuisine is a part of the cultural legacy of the globe, thus the Mexican ambassador decided to invite Mexican chefs and host week-long culinary adventures here in Bangladesh.

At the regional and global level, A good illustration of South-South Cooperation would be the cooperation between Bangladesh and Mexico. The two parties also addressed potential collaboration at the regional and global levels, including the United Nations, in sectors that would benefit both parties amid the ongoing geopolitical crisis and economic crisis.

There must be more chances for direct communication between Mexico and Bangladesh. To strengthen socioeconomic relations between the nations, more chances for travel, intellectual exchange, and cultural interaction must be created.

– Saume Saptaparna Nath is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA). Previously, she worked as an Intern at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh.

Published in The Daily Observer [Link]