October 23, 2021, 5:19 am
Patheo24.com :: People stand at the statue of Winston Churchill as they celebrate Britain leaving the EU on Brexit day in London, Britain on 31 January. Photo: ReutersThree and a half years after the referendum, the United Kingdom officially broke away from the European Union (EU) on Friday. This poses as a challenge for Bangladesh to maintain a balance in its relations with EU and the United Kingdom.
According to analysts, the United Kingdom has not only been an important trade partner of Bangladesh, but has supported it, regarding the Rohingya crisis, development and political issues at various multilateral forums. Bangladesh must now prepare itself from now to adjust to the new circumstances and maintain continuity in its relations with the United Kingdom.
Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and London said that there are signs of an economic recession in the United Kingdom as a fallout of Brexit. As the United Kingdom is Bangladesh’s third largest export destination, there are apprehensions of a slump in trade and remittance. The United Kingdom’s international aid agency may also cut down on its development aid to various countries.
Former foreign secretary and senior fellow at North South University Md Shahidul Huq said on Saturday, while speaking to Prothom Alo, it is important for Bangladesh to maintain good relations with the United Kingdom alongside EU. The United Kingdom is an important partner of Bangladesh in politics, trade and development. That is why it is important to prepare from now to keep up good relations with the United Kingdom, while upholding national interests.
Diplomatic sources of both countries have commented that Brexit has occurred at a time when Bangladesh is entering the mid-income bracket. That is why the nature of Bangladesh’s relations with the United Kingdom may undergo certain changes in institutions such as the World Trade Organisation.
Distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Mustafizur Rahman told Prothom Alo, there is a question as to whether Bangladesh, on its way to becoming a mid-income country, will receive the same market preferences from the United Kingdom as it will from EU. After 2023, EU will continue to provide Bangladesh this preference for three more years. In order to avail similar advantage from the United Kingdom, Bangladesh can begin negotiation from now, along with other less developed countries.
Officials of the foreign ministry have said that Bangladesh is holding discussions with the United Kingdom about the possible impact of Brexit. Bangladesh is giving particular importance to its political relations with the United Kingdom. Referring to the Rohingya issue, a senior diplomat said that ever since the Rohingya refugees flooded into Bangladesh in 2017, the United Kingdom has been strong vocal in favour of Bangladesh at the United Nations, EU and the international arena. The United Kingdom has also raised issues pertaining to Bangladesh’s human rights, good governance and democratic values at the EU. It is to be observed what stance the United Kingdom adopts towards Bangladesh.
When asked about the issue, Bangladesh’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Saida Muna Tasneem told Prothom Alo, the United Kingdom will have an 11-month transition period after Brexit. In this period, United Kingdom’s business will continue as before. She added that a meeting will be held in May between the United Kingdom and Bangladesh so that cooperation will continue as before in trade, commerce and other sectors.
* This report appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir