US deputy secretary of state Stephen E Biegun
US deputy secretary of state Stephen E BiegunPhoto: UNB

US deputy secretary of state Stephen E Biegun will visit Bangladesh from 14-16 October to meet with senior government officials and reaffirm the Bangladesh-United States partnership, reports UNB.

The deputy secretary's engagements in Bangladesh will focus on advancing common vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region with shared prosperity for all, according to the office of the spokesperson at the US Department of State.

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Both sides will also discuss Bangladesh-US cooperation on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, and sustainable economic development.

From 12-14 October, the deputy secretary will visit New Delhi, India where he will meet with senior government officials and deliver keynote remarks at the India-US forum.

Building on secretary Pompeo's 6 October meeting with Indian minister of external affairs S Jaishankar and ahead of the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this year, deputy secretary Biegun's engagements in India will focus on advancing the United States-India comprehensive global strategic partnership and how the United States and India can work together to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe.

The US deputy secretary of state is likely to meet foreign minister AK Abdul Momen apart from his other engagements during the visit.

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Prime minister's adviser for private industry and investment Salman F Rahman and US under secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment Keith Krach co-chaired a virtual meeting recently.

Rahman underscored that Bangladesh would continue to pursue economic diplomacy pro-actively with neighbouring, regional and global players.

He welcomed the US interest and involvement in the existing and new initiatives.

Adviser Rahman made the remarks at the first ever high-level economic partnership consultation between Bangladesh and the United States held at a virtual platform with a view to developing a vision for advancing the existing US-Bangladesh economic partnership.

Bangladesh and the United States have discussed ways to develop an inclusive blue economy by working together and sharing knowledge, data and ideas, building greater capacity, and enhancing professional collaboration.

The Bangladesh side expressed hope that the US government would provide the government of Bangladesh with fish detecting technology, either through satellite or SONAR, and transferring technology for fish/seafood processing, according to US department of state.

The US side congratulated the government of Bangladesh for joining the international community as a party to the agreement on port state measures that would aid the United States, Bangladesh, and the other parties in deterring and eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The US side praised the government of Bangladesh for hosting the third Indian Ocean Rim Association Blue Economy Ministerial Conference in 2019.

Both sides noted the importance of sound science, innovative management, effective enforcement, meaningful partnerships, and robust public participation, all being important elements of the blue economy and each contributing to the future prospects of the ocean.

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Energy cooperation

The meeting participants noted that the United States and Bangladesh have a strong history of cooperation in the energy sector and recognized the importance of energy security to promote regional connectivity, and power stability to further advance Bangladesh's economic growth.

The Bangladesh side welcomed the support from US Departments of State, energy, commerce, as well as USAID and USTDA in this sector under the whole-of-government Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) initiative.

The participants encouraged the relevant stakeholders of the two countries to collaborate and explore the possibility of further expanding the LNG footprint, as an efficient and clean primary fuel for Bangladesh's power generation.

The meeting was appreciative of the participation of US companies like Excelerate Energy and Cheniere Energy at the early stages of Bangladesh's journey to the world of LNG.

The US energy participants hoped that the cooperation in this regard between the two countries would continue to grow in future.

The participants noted that the first cargoes of US produced LNG have already been exported to Bangladesh.

They also noted the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between GE and Bangladesh Power Development Board in 2018 for a 3600 MW Combined Cycle power plant in the southern part of Bangladesh - Moheshkhali Island - and expressed hope that the two sides would remain engaged in this regard.

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The meeting discussed exploring the possibility of establishment of an energy sector dialogue to facilitate commercial engagement with US energy companies, increase the possible use of US products and services that support smarter, more efficient, and more resilient energy systems, and improve access to reliable, affordable energy to Bangladesh.

They discussed this potential platform being led by the US department of commerce while on the Bangladesh side by the ministry of power, energy, and mineral resources.

Additionally, the US department of commerce announced the creation of the US-Bangladesh Energy Industry Working Group as part of the Asia EDGE Energy Industry Working Group Network, which creates a "one stop shop" for the US private sector to actively participate in Asia EDGE interagency programs and connect to regional market opportunities.