Editor’s Note

Delwar Hossain   Editor

On the occasion of celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Bangladesh, the Journal of Bangladesh and Global Affairs began its journey to contribute in the making of a knowledge-based society. Keeping this in mind, we decided to publish two volumes of special issue on Bangladesh foreign policy as an inaugural issue. The first issue was published in May 2022 and this is the second volume of special issue on Bangladesh foreign policy. In this special issue, articles cover from Bangladesh’s relations with major development partners and international organizations to Bangladesh’s foreign policy challenges arising from and in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean region. This issue has captured a host of critical engagements of Bangladesh foreign policy which have profound implications for its security, development and social progress. In this issue, eight papers are included to cover diverse areas of international relations of Bangladesh.

In the paper entitled, “Great Power Rivalry in the Indian Ocean Region and Bangladesh: Challenges and Responses”, Siddiquee has investigated Bangladesh’s foreign policy challenges arising from the Indian Ocean region. In the article, the author has examined the growing level of great power rivalry in the region and how does it affect the foreign policy of the littoral country like Bangladesh. It is argued that due to the burgeoning rivalry among the great powers, Bangladesh will encounter difficulties in its policy articulation through maintaining autonomy. Siddiquee views that Bangladesh’s preferred policy posture to tackle the great power rivalry should be and in fact has been an independent and non-aligned one. It also focuses on the challenges that Bangladesh is facing and how the country has responded to those challenges so far. Some options have also been suggested to encounter the great-power rivalry in the IOR.

In his paper entitled, “The Blue Economy Diplomacy of Bangladesh: Concepts, Contexts and Practices”, Islam talks about the blue economy diplomacy of Bangladesh as a critical area of Bangladesh foreign policy in the era of new opportunities and challenges. The paper embarked upon by conceptualizing both blue economy (BE) and blue economy diplomacy (BED). Though there is no single definition of BE, it has already received greater global attention at all levels of international engagement. Most definitions of BE focus on three aspects- protecting ocean health, economic benefits from the ocean resources and ensuring social justice of those ocean resources. It has also highlighted practices of Bangladesh blue economy diplomacy.

In his article, “Bangladesh-Japan Relations: Past, Present and Future”, Hossain examines the fifty years of Bangladesh’s relations with Japan. Bangladesh’s evolving political, economic, geostrategic and development partnership is critically analyzed. It is argued that in this changing global scenario, both Bangladesh and Japan need each other for their mutual benefits and prosperity. The paper argues that the Government of Bangladesh is in real need of pursuing effective and robust Japan policy identifying major thrusts for its national development. This requires the government decision-making actors in Bangladesh to inject new enthusiasm and initiatives to deepen and broaden this bilateral relationship. Japan also finds enormous interests in promoting its relations with Bangladesh. There is ample scope to elevate Bangladesh-Japan relations to a new height in the next fifty years or beyond by implementing the policy suggestions identified in the paper.

In the paper on “Bangladesh-China Relations: From War-time Hostility to Strategic Partnership”, Datta has discussed Bangladesh’s evolving relations with China. The article asserts that ties between Bangladesh and China have evolved from a state of wartime hostility to a strategic partnership. It is argued that the political, economic, and military links between Bangladesh and China have been excellent for both countries over the last two decades. The article also suggests that people of these two countries have a long history of friendship and cooperation that dates back hundreds of years.

In the article on “Fifty Years of Bangladesh’s Relations with Europe: Changes and Continuity” Islam has examined Bangladesh’s relations with European countries. The author has examined the key dimensions in Bangladesh-Europe relations focusing on the continuity and change. It is argued that Europe has been a trusted development partner for Bangladesh in the last fifty years. From the very first decade of twenty first century, the relations have been advanced to new momentum by multidimensional flourishment through widening of engagement and deepening of partnership. The impeccable ties are elevating both the parties unleashing new horizon of prospects.

In the paper on ­­­“Bangladesh’s Relations with the Middle East and Africa: Dimensions, Challenges and Prospects,” Bangladesh’s relations with Middle Eastern and African countries are examined. The authors argue that Middle East occupies a key priority in Bangladesh’s foreign policy though African countries became a new focus. The authors navigated their analysis from economic dimensions to strategic partnerships. Middle Eastern countries remain a key destination for Bangladesh labor migrants. On the contrary, Bangladesh has participated UN peacekeeping missions in African countries which has brought about prestige to Bangladesh. The article has also identified some possibilities in forging Bangladesh’s relations with the Middle East and African countries.

In the article on “Bangladesh in International Organizations: From the Periphery to the Centerstage” Islam and Molla have investigated Bangladesh’s relations with international organizations. Since the onset of Bangladesh foreign policy, international organizations occupy key position in Bangladesh foreign policy. This paper argues that economic prowess and growing geopolitical significance of Bangladesh in the region is creating more space for playing roles in international organizations, and the nature of the country’s engagement in multilateral platforms are changing. It has emerged as a significant actor and negotiator in regional and global affairs rather than remaining a passive audience.

In his article on “Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development in Bangladesh: A New Frontier in Foreign Policy”, Rahman argues that Bangladesh is well placed to take advantage of 4IR. Bangladesh in recent years had transformed to be a manufacturing base supported by the demographic dividend, which was a source of human resources and rising young entrepreneurial class. In this context, the automation and digitalization process need to be enhanced in manufacturing sector. At the policy level, effective and long-term development strategy should enhance cooperation with the technologically advanced nations to ensure accessibility, affordability and the usability of 4IR technologies at the local economic sectors. This has direct relevance with the engagement of foreign policy of Bangladesh.

It is worthwhile to note that the articles in this special issue brings new insights in Bangladesh foreign policy choices and directions. With the second volume of special issue, the Journal of Bangladesh and Global Affairs has covered seventeen articles on Bangladesh foreign policy. This provides a critical foundation of knowledge about contemporary issues, achievements and challenges of Bangladesh in global arena which would benefit students, scholars, policy makers and analysts of international relations. In the era of global chaos and uncertainty precipitated by the Ukraine War, post-COVID-19 challenges and great power rivalries, foreign policy has a significant role to define interests and strategies of nation-states. Bangladesh foreign policy is often and widely cited as a successful case in the maze of conflicting and hostile relations of major powers in surrounding regions and beyond.

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