Portugal: Bangladesh’s next major EU trading partner?

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A fishmonger wears a face mask as she works in the local Benfica market during a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease, in Lisbon on April 23, 2020
AFP

According to Portuguese statistics, in 2020 Bangladesh exported goods worth 71.01 million euros, while importing goods worth 12.87 million euros.

With the gradual improvement of the Covid-19 situation around the world and the global economy showing signs of recovery, Bangladesh’s bilateral trade with Portugal, a key member of the European Union, is expected to increase significantly.

Tarik Ahsan, Bangladeshi Ambassador to Portugal, told Dhaka Tribune that as Portugal vaccinates 80% of its population, bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to gain momentum into the new normal.

In fiscal year 2020-2021, Bangladesh exported goods worth $ 75.97 million, or 64 million euros, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

However, no EPB data was available on Bangladesh’s imports from Portugal in the same fiscal year.

According to Portuguese statistics, in 2020 Bangladesh exported goods worth 71.01 million euros, while importing goods worth 12.87 million euros.

Amsaddaor Ahsan also said the Portuguese economy is on track for a solid recovery from the second quarter of 2021, as well as the gradual easing of pandemic restrictions.

Its GDP is expected to grow 3.9% in 2021 and 5.1% in 2022, returning to its pre-pandemic economy by mid-2022.


Read also – Portuguese President praises Bangladeshi migrants


After the UK and Italy, many Bangladeshis have also lived in Portugal over the years in different sectors.

Some 15,000 to 20,000 Bangladeshis are engaged in different sectors in Portugal and their contribution to the EU country is well recognized by his society and the government ”, said Tarik Ahsan.

The Portuguese company and government praised Bangladesh for its socio-economic development, including economic growth, women’s empowerment and gender parity, he also said.

Referring to his meeting with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Ahsan said the president praised Bangladeshi migrants living in the EU country for their diligence and sincerity in their work.

The challenges of expanding trade

However, the Bangladeshi envoy also said that it was also natural for them (Portugal) to prioritize Portuguese-speaking migrants from countries like Brazil, Peru, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Timor-Leste, Macao, etc.

Asked about the temporary restrictive measures proposed by the European Commission (EC) on short-stay visas, Tarik Ahsan said the EC’s restriction proposal appeared to be dependent on European Council approval, where member states will have their say to say.

If this proposal is approved at the European Council, all member states will be obliged to apply the restrictions. Although Portugal is generally not in favor of such restrictive measures, it will have to comply with the European decision, if or when it is taken, he also said.

On the other hand, obtaining a Portuguese visa is difficult for Bangladeshis because there is no Portuguese embassy in Dhaka.

In addition, non-essential visits to Portugal are currently not allowed from most countries, with the exception of EU countries and some selected countries considered safe in light of the pandemic.

The European Commission has proposed temporary restrictive measures on short-stay visas for Bangladesh due to insufficient cooperation on the readmission of illegal immigrants from the country to member states of the European Union.

The proposal was made last month, according to a press release from the commission cited by SchengenVisaInfo.com.


Read also – Are Bangladeshi products found in too few markets?


Ahsan, a career diplomat and graduate of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), presented his credentials to Portuguese President Prof. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at Belém Palace in Lisbon on December 18 of Last year.

He said economic relations should be strengthened to their full potential and that the Portuguese government plans to open a resident embassy in Dhaka in the near future.

The Portuguese president made the remarks when Bangladesh’s new ambassador to Portugal, Tarik Ahsan, recently presented his credentials to the president at Belém Palace.

The government of Bangladesh is buying goods for its embassy in Lisbon and said it will help expand relations between the two countries, Tarik Ahsan added.

Meanwhile, the two countries discussed bilateral issues during the first-ever bilateral political consultations held in Lisbon in 2018. Bangladesh and Portugal agreed to strengthen existing bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Ambassador Kamrul Ahsan, then Bilateral Secretary and Consular of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, led the Bangladeshi side, while the Director General of Foreign Policy of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Pedro Sanchez Da Costa Pereira, led the Portuguese delegation.

Discussions covered the full range of Bangladesh – Portugal relations, including trade and investment, electricity and energy, in particular renewable energy, blue economy and maritime resources, tourism and culture. , employment opportunities for the Bangladeshi workforce, regional and international issues such as Brexit, Rohingyas, climate. change and other matters of mutual interest.

Referring to the ongoing megaprojects in Bangladesh, the Portuguese side expressed interest in participating in future projects, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, ICT, electricity and renewable energies.

The two sides agreed to hold regular political consultations and regular exchanges of visits at all levels, including political, business, civil society and grassroots groups to strengthen relations between the two countries.


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