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Dhaka, Ankara agree on FTA

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his government’s interests in joint-venture investments in energy sector, particularly in oil and gas exploration.
Erdrogan showed the interest during the official talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at his office here Thursday evening.
The two countries agreed to deepen their ties in areas of economy, trade and commerce, culture, and agriculture.
Meanwhile, Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh and Turkey will sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) soon.
The premier said this while addressing a business meeting with TUSKON, a leading business group in Turkey, at Hotel Sheraton here.
On Thursday’s official talks, Hasina and Erdogan discussed the entire range of bilateral relations, and agreed to support each other in the UN, and in regional and international forums.
Erdogan praised the achievements of the Bangladesh government in promoting education, rule of law, and democracy under the dynamic leadership of Hasina.
He hoped that Bangladesh would be a middle income country by 2015.
“We have attached special importance to our bilateral relations. We have agreed to give support to each other’s candidates in multilateral institutions, including in the UN Security Council,” Hasina said at a joint press conference after the official talks.
She said that agreements signed between the two countries would further bolster bilateral relations in economic, commercial, cultural, agricultural, and other fields.
Turkey would soon join the International Jute Study Group (IJSG), the only UN organisation headquartered in Bangladesh.
It would also finance Bangladesh in the construction of several hundred community healthcare clinics, she added.
“The two countries have been working hard to explore the full potentials of our bilateral relations in different fields,” she said.
Hasina mentioned that the Bangladesh Consulate General office has been established in Istanbul this month to cater to the needs of businesspersons and investors from both countries.
During the official talks, Turkey has agreed to increase the number of government scholarships for Bangladeshi students and assist in restoring the historical Shahi Jame Masjid at Anderkilla in Chittagong.
Hasina expressed her happiness over the signing of a Sister-City twining agreement linking the spiritual capitals of Konya in Turkey and Sylhet in Bangladesh.
Erdogan expressed his satisfaction saying that the defence cooperation between the two countries is growing.
After the official talks, Bangladesh and Turkey signed seven instruments to further bolster cooperation in economic, cultural, agricultural, and other fields.
An agreement has been signed for reciprocal promotion and protection of investment while the other has been inked for mutual abolition of visas for the diplomatic, service/official, and special passport holders.
The third agreement is on customs cooperation between the two countries.
Of the two MoUs, one is on scientific and technical cooperation in the field of agriculture, and the other is for cultural, scientific and educational exchange programme.
A letter of intent has also been signed between the two countries under which Turkey will join IJSG.
During the one-to-one meeting with Erdogan, Hasina hailed the Turkish government’s efforts for strengthening democracy and discouraging unconstitutional takeover.
She also admired Turkey’s political, legislative, judicial and administrative steps for institutionalising democracy, human rights, and rule of law that have set up an example in the region.
She hoped that none of the countries would experience military rule in the future.
Later, Hasina attended a state banquet hosted in her honour by the Turkish premier at his official residence.

Earlier, on her arrival at the office of Erdogan, Hasina was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent of the Turkish armed forces.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Industries Minister Dilip Barua, Ambassador at-Large M Ziauddin, Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, among others, accompanied Hasina during the official talks.
During the meeting with TUSKON yesterday, Hasina said her government has initiated plans to make Bangladesh the hub of all economic activities in South Asia and South East Asian regions, encompassing China and India.
Mentioning that Bangladesh and Turkey will sign FTA soon, she said her country’s export to Turkey has so far been limited to a few products like readymade garments and jute yarn.
“We can offer many more. You can import ceramic products, leather and leather products, frozen shrimp, jute goods, handicrafts, bicycle, and many other products from Bangladesh at competitive prices,” she said.
In the last few years, she said the Bangladesh government has been developing road, rail, sea, and air connectivity in the region that would connect Bangladesh to a market of over two billion people.
She urged the TUSKON to take advantage of the phenomenal growth of pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh to provide quality medicines at better prices to the Turkish people.
The premier said at present, trade between Bangladesh and Turkey is far below the potential which stands only around $1 billion.
“During the visit of your prime minister to Bangladesh in November 2010, we decided to achieve a target of at least $3 billion bilateral trade volume by 2015,” Hasina said, adding that TUSKON can play a significant role in achieving this target.
TUSKON President Rezanur Meral and AK Azad, president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), spoke on the occasion.

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