French President Emmanuel Macron recently visited Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. During his two-day trip, Macron met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and witnessed the signing of important agreements aimed at infrastructure development and the establishment of an earth observation satellite system.
One of the agreements involved the French Development Agency providing loans to Bangladesh for infrastructure projects. The details of the loan and specific projects were not immediately disclosed.
Additionally, a letter of intent was signed between Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL) and Airbus Defense and Space SAS of France for the provision of an earth observation satellite system. This system will be crucial for monitoring crops and the sea, as Bangladesh currently lacks monitoring capabilities in these areas.
Bangladesh already has a geostationary communications and broadcasting satellite called Bangabandhu Satellite-1, which was launched in 2018. The satellite was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space in France.
The visit by President Macron has been seen positively by the Bangladeshi media and is believed to be a step towards attracting investments from France. Some speculate that the visit also holds political and strategic significance ahead of Bangladesh’s next general election, which is expected to take place in early January.
France is currently Bangladesh’s fifth-largest trading partner in various sectors, including engineering, energy, aerospace, and water. Both countries expressed their desire for the new agreements to contribute to regional and global stability and peace.
Prime Minister Hasina also highlighted France’s commitment to facilitate trade with Bangladesh under the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme. However, experts caution that joining the GSP+ scheme may result in Bangladesh losing certain benefits it currently enjoys as a least developed country under the World Trade Organization’s protocol.
This visit by President Macron also strengthens the partnership between Bangladesh and Airbus, as the country has recently signed an agreement with the aviation company.
Overall, Macron’s visit is seen as a boost for Prime Minister Hasina’s political campaign in the lead-up to the election, and it further solidifies the relationships between France and Bangladesh in various sectors.