Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa paid a working visit to Bangladesh, 14-15 March 2013. In Dhaka, the Minister met Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni (Thursday, 14/3/13) for a bilateral meeting, followed by a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (Friday, 15/3/13).
The visit of the Indonesian Foreign Minister provided a positive momentum for the strengthening of the two countries’ bilateral relations which remain strong since 1972. The visit also marks the first working visit by Minister Natalegawa to Bangladesh.
With a population of more than 158 million, Bangladesh serves as one of major non-traditional markets for Indonesian products. In 2012, trade value between Indonesia and Bangladesh was recorded at US$ 1,17 billion. Bangladesh’s economy in the past three years has consistently grown above 6% and the country is predicted to join “the Next Eleven” with Indonesia, according to Goldman Sachs. Bangladesh has the fourth largest Moslem population in the world.
In the meeting, the two Ministers welcomed many initiatives in furthering the bilateral cooperation in various areas including trade and investment, agriculture, defense, education, food security, good governance, counter-terrorism, research and technology as well as disaster mitigation and management.
“The close friendship between President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Hasina has contributed meaningfully to the strengthening and deepening of the bilateral relations between Indonesia and Bangladesh. Our meeting today has created positive momentum for the two countries to continue working together to bolster cooperation and advance our bilateral relations in all areas of mutual benefit,” according to the Indonesian Foreign Minister.
The meeting was among others concluded with an exchange of notes for the ratification of the Agreement on Visa Exemption for Holders of Diplomatic/Services Passports signed by the two countries in August 2010. The two Ministers also agreed to encourage enhanced contacts between respective public officials and private sectors in Indonesia and Bangladesh including through participation in trade missions in both countries and exchange of visits between their chambers of commerce. The Ministers also discussed the follow up of Prime Minister Hasina’s invitation to President Yudhoyono to visit Bangladesh.
Besides bilateral cooperation, the Ministers also exchanged their views on the two countries’ cooperation in regional and global fora, as well as the Rohingya issue.
At the end of the meeting, the two Foreign Ministers agreed to the convening of the forthcoming Third Meeting of Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation to be held in Bangladesh in 2013/2014 at Foreign Minister level. The two previous meetings in 2007 and 2010 were led by the respective senior officials at Director General level.