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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

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Dhaka, Moscow agree to cooperate in agri sector

The Bangladesh Observer

Bangladesh and Russia have agreed to explore the avenues for mutual cooperation in agriculture sector, says BSS. The consensus reached when Ambassador of the Russian Federation Oleg S Malginov called on the Agriculture Minister, M K Anwar at his office in Dhaka on Tuesday.

The areas of cooperation in agriculture between the two countries include signing of Memorandum of Understanding, exchange of scientists and researchers including institutional collaboration, resourcesm, development, products diversification and trade have been identified during the meeting.

The direct contribution of Agriculture to GDP in both the countries is hovering to 25 percent. Although both the countries have sizeable indirect contribution to GDP in agriculture sector.

The Minister said the main aim of Bangladesh is to increase agriculture production although it has achieved the ever highest rice production of 25.2 million tons last year.

He said we have shortfall in other crops production and various steps are being taken to increase production of those crops maintaining the growth in rice production.

He said Bangladesh is exporting vegetables around the globe and Russia could be a prospective market when it is explored.

The Minister said the research system in Bangladesh is very strong and the success has made in the last three decades is mainly due to research contributions.

He said the government is supporting the growers by supplying inputs and providing extension services. He invited the Russian envoy to visit local research institutes to acquaint with the progress.

Laying importance on mutual cooperation in agriculture, the Russian envoy said his country is importing mainly Ready Made garments (RMG), leather and leather goods, jute and sea-food from Bangladesh. But there is bright prospect to develop trade and share experiences in unexplored agriculture sector for mutual

benefits, he added.

Pointing to the agriculture subsidy, the Ambassador said huge subsidy on agriculture export given by the neighbouring European countries is detrimental to Russian farmers and economy as the European Union has been maintaining aggressive export of cheap EU products to Russia.

He said we want to develop agriculture to face challenges. In this case, direct contact between the two countries in the field of research institutions will be very fruitful, he said and added, " we have to do something in the field of agriculture".

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Khosru tells JS

Exports won't be affected if roadmap for TU
in EPZs implemented properly

The Bangladesh Observer

Country’s exports will not be affected if the roadmap for trade union activities in the export processing zones (EPZs) is implemented properly, reports UNB.

Commerce Minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury expressed the optimism while elaborating on the roadmap during the question hour in Parliament on Tuesday,  replying to a supplementary from M Shahiduzzaman of BNP.

Khosru told the House that the roadmap for trade union in the export processing zones has been formulated after long discussions with the United States and the investors in the EPZs.

 “Under the roadmap, there will be labour unions in the EPZs, but without any political or outside interference,” he said mentioning that the investors also agreed with the roadmap.

Replying to Golam Habib Dulal (Jatiya Party-Kurigram), the Commerce Minister firmly said Bangladesh’s garments sector is ready to face the post-MFA period when there will be no quota.

 “Despite decrease of value of the products, our apparels marked a 16 percent growth. We are hopeful of continuing the trend and, if so, there is no apprehension of being affected after the year 2004,” he said.

 “The quota protected us, but it also brought some limitations. When there will be no quota, we’ll have no limitations and it can otherwise bring good for us,” he added.

Elaborating various measures to face the post-MFA challenge, Khosru said Bangladesh developed its garments sector in 20 years and other countries cannot suppress the vast experience.

The minister also ruled out the apprehension that workers would lose their jobs under the quota-free regime. He appreciated both the entrepreneurs and the workers for building human resources in the sector.

Replying to Col (retd) M Anwarul Azim (BNP-Comilla), who is also a garment factory owner, Khosru admitted that Bangladesh might face some problems for its compliance to many matters like eliminating child labour.

 “We raised the issue of non-compliance by certain countries whose production cost will be less than us due to our compliance. We expect measures from the developed world,” the minister told the House.

Replying to Abu Sayeed M Shahadat Hossain, he hoped that Bangladesh’s market access as an LDC to India would increase following the implementation of SAFTA and bilateral free trade agreement.

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Exchange of edn curricula with foreign Instts stressed

The Bangladesh Observer

Food Minister Abdullah Al-Noman on Monday called for exchanging educational curricula between foreign institutions and those of Bangladesh, reports BSS.

He was inaugurating a three-day ‘international education fair 2004’ organised by the BSB Global Network at Sheraton hotel in the city today. Several local and foreign organisations, assisting students to get admission to foreign colleges and universities, are participating in the fair.

The food Minister also suggested the organisations to exchange experiences with foreign institutions and students.  Besides public universities, there are now many private universities in Bangladesh and some of them have foreign affiliations, he added.

Noman opined that the visa system for the students, seeking admission to foreign educational institutions, should be simplified for getting quick decision.

Among others, President of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) Gias Kamal Chowdhury, Chairman of Moulana Abul Kalam Azad College of India Ibrahim Sikandar Khan and Executive Director of the SSB M.K. Bashar also spoke on the occasion.

The participating countries include North Cyprus, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Ukraine and India.

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