Bridging Two Asias: Bangladesh’s Diplomacy of Regional Cooperation and Bilateral Engagements
Assistant Professor of International Relations, Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s geographical location between South and Southeast Asia gives it a unique potential to act as a crossroad between the two Asian continents. As a result, Bangladesh may be able to construct a free trade zone, which would need closer links between Bangladesh and all SAARC and ASEAN countries. Bangladesh is also attempting to retain its socio-economic standing, conducive to a seamless transition to middle-income countries, through participating in regional efforts and bilateral engagement with SAARC and ASEAN countries. Even if Bangladesh’s business contacts with SAARC countries have increased in recent years, trade relations with ASEAN countries have favored them principally. Furthermore, most SAARC nations have not eradicated non-tariff trade barriers. Additionally, the lengthy processes of establishing free trade agreements with ASEAN countries, becoming an ASEAN Secretarial Dialogue Partner, and complex relations with Myanmar over the Rohingya repatriation crisis can all be considered barriers to Bangladesh’s ambition of becoming a bridge between two Asias.
Keywords: Bangladesh, SAARC, ASEAN, FTAs, Regional cooperation, Bilateral engagement.
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