France and Bangladesh Ink Deals During Macron’s Dhaka Visit

French President Emmanuel Macron strengthens ties with Bangladesh through agreements on loans and satellite technology.

Dhaka, Bangladesh – French President Emmanuel Macron’s two-day visit to Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, has yielded significant outcomes in the form of bilateral agreements. During his visit, President Macron and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina witnessed the signing of crucial deals aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two nations.

Infrastructure Loans and Satellite Technology

The highlight of the visit was the signing of an agreement to facilitate loans for infrastructure development in Bangladesh. This agreement, inked between Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Division and the French Development Agency, signals France’s commitment to supporting Bangladesh’s infrastructure growth.

In addition to infrastructure loans, a letter of intent was signed to provide Bangladesh with an earth observation satellite system. This partnership involves collaboration between Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL) and Airbus Defense and Space SAS, France, furthering Bangladesh’s capabilities in satellite technology.

Satellite for Agricultural and Maritime Monitoring

The earth observation satellite, once operational, will orbit approximately 350 miles above Earth. Its primary purpose will be to monitor crop conditions and maritime activities. Bangladesh currently lacks comprehensive monitoring capabilities over its vast maritime areas, making this satellite a significant addition to its technological infrastructure.

Chairman Shahjahan Mahmud of the state-run Bangladesh Satellite Company Ltd. emphasized the satellite’s role in agriculture and maritime surveillance, highlighting its importance for the nation.

Positive Reception and Economic Implications

Macron’s visit received positive coverage in Bangladeshi media, with many observers noting its potential to attract French investments in sectors where the United States, China, and India are actively involved. Some even speculate that the visit may hold political and strategic significance ahead of Bangladesh’s next general election, scheduled for early January.

France ranks as Bangladesh’s fifth-largest trading partner, with engagements spanning engineering, energy, aerospace, and water sectors. Both leaders expressed hope that their strengthened strategic partnership would contribute to regional and global stability and peace.

Commitment to Sustainability and Trade

Prime Minister Hasina underlined the commitment of both nations to address issues related to climate change, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. She also mentioned France’s support for Bangladesh’s participation in the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), emphasizing its role in promoting sustainable development and good governance.

While joining the GSP+ scheme could bring advantages, some experts caution that Bangladesh might lose certain benefits associated with its status as a least developed country under the World Trade Organization’s protocol.

Boost for Hasina Ahead of Elections

Macron’s visit also holds political implications for Prime Minister Hasina, who seeks a fourth consecutive term. Bangladesh’s main opposition party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, has voiced demands for her resignation and the establishment of a caretaker government for the upcoming election. The United States has urged a credible election process and raised concerns about human rights under Hasina’s rule.

In this political landscape, Russia and China have reaffirmed their support for Hasina, while India maintains cordial relations with her government. Macron’s visit is viewed as a significant boost for Hasina’s campaign in the lead-up to the election.

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