Public Event: HE Mohammad Sufiur Rahman

On Wednesday 1 June 2022, the Perth USAsia Centre was pleased to host His Excellency Mohammad Sufiur Rahman, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Australia for a public event at The University of Western Australia.

As Australia and Bangladesh celebrate fifty years of diplomatic relations, the High Commissioner’s visit to Perth was an opportune time to reflect on the progress made between the two countries and the future of the bilateral relationship.

Australia and Bangladesh are embarking on a new era in their relationship as the two countries seek to deepen and institutionalise cooperation. Bangladesh has enjoyed significant economic growth over the last decade, presenting new and exciting opportunities for strengthening economic ties.

Having recently signed the Australia-Bangladesh Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in late 2021, this agreement signals an energised relationship with our close neighbour.

With shared strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region, Australia and Bangladesh have significant potential to further their economic, people-to-people and security links.

In his remarks, High Commissioner Sufiur Rahman affirmed Bangladesh’s importance as an emerging player in the Indian Ocean region. However, despite a long history of diplomatic relations, Bangladesh’s emergence as a regional player has largely been unnoticed by Australian stakeholders.

As Australia and Bangladesh enter the next era of their relationship, the two countries must work to deepen ties and overcome the current attention deficit. As Bangladesh is projected to become the 26th largest economy by 2030, there is significant potential to elevate economic relations by upgrading TIFA to a bilateral free trade agreement.

However, as Bangladesh aspires to obtaining developed nation status by 2041, it faces some obstacles including the Rohingya crisis and climate change. Australia can work together with Bangladesh to tackle these challenges, including through building climate resilience to reduce Bangladesh’s vulnerability to climate change.

The event concluded with a panel discussion with High Commissioner Sufiur Rahman, Brendan Augustin, WA President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Md Ikthedar Hassan Murad, Chairman of Geranium Solutions Group and Racheline Tantular, Analyst at Lydekker and WA Hub President for the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership, with Professor Gordon Flake moderating the discussion.

Panellists reflected on the relationship, and suggested meaningful opportunities in both economic and non-traditional areas of cooperation to strengthen the relationship going forward.

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