Bangladesh-Nepal: Economic Diplomacy to strengthen bilateral trade

Bangladesh and Nepal, two South Asian countries with contrasting ecological environments, socioeconomic structures, and historical and cultural histories, are considered to be progressing well in their bilateral relations.

It is clear that, in the face of a rapidly evolving global structure, more innovative and bold measures are needed to defend and support the interests of smaller economies and pursue the mutual interests. Despite the fact that Bangladesh and Nepal have exceptional bilateral relations, we have seen that our economic relations have remained at an unsatisfactory level over the years.

Our aim should be to change the course of our international relations and introduce new dynamism in line with the Government of Bangladesh’s priorities for economic diplomacy. Bangladesh–Nepal bilateral ties, which have featured fair and sincere care, mutual assistance, and friendship for decades, should serve as a model for other countries’ affairs.

 Ties have developed, and the relationship’s main objective now is to stabilize border zones, promote people-to-people interaction.

The setting up of the offices has made the passengers’ movement much easier through the traditional route so far which used to remain reserved only for the cargo vehicle movement. The paper discusses the current state of trade relations between two nations, focusing on strategic options. The article ends with a set of recommendations for strengthening economic diplomacy in order to enhance well-intentioned trading ties between Bangladesh and Nepal.

On April 8, 1972, Nepal and Bangladesh established diplomatic ties. It should be noted with pride that Nepal was the seventh country to recognize Bangladesh’s territorial rights and freedom shortly after the country’s independence. The bilateral relations between the two countries have improved since diplomatic links were established. Cordiality, goodwill, common understanding, shared beliefs, and ambitions of the people characterize Nepal and Bangladesh.

 The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has a long-standing stance of non-alignment and peaceful ties with its neighbors. Nepal retains good ties with both the People’s Republic of China and India, despite being a small landlocked nation sandwiched between two far larger and much stronger forces.

Nepal’s foreign policy is motivated by the UN Charter’s ideals of nonalignment, international law, and the concept of world peace. Nepal’s most significant foreign relationships are, without a doubt, with international financial institutions IMF, ADB, World Bank and other multilateral organizations that work globally. Political diplomacy is heavily influenced by economic relationships.

 Economic diplomacy is credited for the end of the Cold War, the emergence of democracy, and progress. In the 1990s, several Eastern European states, for example, joined the European Union to serve a greater economic interest of European nations. Bilateral, regional, and multilateral economic diplomacy are all viable options. In economic ties, bilateral economic diplomacy is extremely important. It covers international exchange and treaties, as well as a variety of other formal and informal economic issues between two countries.

The rise of democracy and globalization has shifted political diplomacy’s focus to economic diplomacy. Economic partnerships are increasingly being recognized as having a significant effect on political diplomacy.

Economic diplomacy is responsible for the end of the Cold War, the emergence of democracy, and progress. Bilateral trade and treaties, agreements on investment, housing, or double taxation avoidance, and a variety of formal and informal economic issues between two countries are all examples of economic diplomacy.

 BFTAs have become the standard, and many countries around the world are implementing them. Economic diplomacy is not a new phenomenon in Nepal. Nepal had developed business relations and an effective trading system with Tibet and British India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was formed as a result of a strategic alliance, and it was founded on economic rather than political considerations.

Nepali diplomacy must turn its emphasis away from only political ties and foreign aid and toward trade, tourism, investment, joint ventures, and job creation. Foreign policy, which is related to national interest and sovereignty, needs a stronger and wider national consensus.

The United Nations Charter guides Nepal’s foreign policy. It includes the Panchsheel principles of coexistence, non-interference, and respect for neighboring sovereignties, as well as solidarity with other small, least developed, and landlocked developing countries.

 Nepal’s bilateral trade agreements with India and China are critical because it is a landlocked nation sandwiched between India and China. Nepal and Bangladesh must also examine their administrative processes and procedures for clearing customs at checkpoints.

Bangladesh is now a regional center for ready-to-wear apparel, pharmaceuticals, ceramic tiles, chinaware, cement, and light engineering goods. Bangladesh’s exports have been steadily increasing at a rate of 12% per year for the past 15 years, thanks to rising global demand for our goods. There are other compelling reasons for Nepal to engage in business.

First, Bangladesh and Nepal’s proximity is an important factor in promoting bilateral trade and other economic interactions.

Foreign investors, particularly those from Nepal, must be encouraged to believe that they can expect full government support in Bangladesh from the moment they arrive in Dhaka. As a result, the Board of Investment can handle all of their issues quickly and effectively. The FBCCI, DCCI, MCCI, BKMEA, and BGMEA play critical roles in promoting trade, tourism, cultural exchange, and attracting foreign direct investment to the country.

 Rather than politics, economic issues should be at the forefront of people’s daily lives. Before satisfying the short-term vested interests of political parties and their leaders, business leaders must advocate for Bangladesh’s long-term economic interests.

The government of Bangladesh must concentrate on persuading people, including some of our neighbors, that Bangladesh provides great investment options and that the overall investment climate is favorable to foreign investment. Last but not least, the Indian government’s intention should be affirmative and considerate in the context of trade and transit between Nepal and Bangladesh. Because of our similar cultural religious traditions and geographic proximity, Nepal and Bangladesh must maintain friendly relations with India.

Ahmad Alfatah Mugdho
Ahmad Alfatah Mugdho
A Post Grad Student of the Department of International Relations, University of Western Australia