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Bangladesh-Estonia Partnership: Diplomatic Relations and Economic Prospects

Ambassador Kristi Karelsohn, the Director General overseeing the Asia Pacific region, Africa, and the Middle East at Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embarked on a significant diplomatic mission as she paid a courtesy visit to Foreign Secretary Ambassador Masud Bin Momen at the State Guest House Padma on April 1, 2024. This historic meeting marked the initiation of bilateral Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and Estonia, setting the stage for enhanced diplomatic relations and promising economic prospects.

The diplomatic dialogue stemmed from earlier discussions between Bangladesh’s ambassador to Estonia, Allama Siddiki, and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu in Tallinn back in October 2022. During the meeting, Estonia expressed interest in importing pharmaceuticals, ocean-going ships, and advancing Bangladesh’s information technology (IT) sector. Ambassador Siddiki assured Estonia of Bangladesh’s ability to meet these demands, emphasizing the quality of products and sought Estonian assistance in IT development and Rohingya repatriation. Minister Reinsalu pledged Estonia’s support for Rohingya repatriation and committed to regular diplomatic dialogue. In 2022, significant trade activity was witnessed between the two nations, with Bangladesh exporting textiles, footwear, and animal products to Estonia, while Estonia exported miscellaneous items, foodstuffs, and metals to Bangladesh. The integration of IT into industries, exemplified by Estonia’s digital projects, presents opportunities for economic growth. Estonia’s robust IT industry, contributing 7.5% of its GDP in 2020, offers a model for Bangladesh’s IT development. Collaborations in IT and educational exchanges were discussed during the diplomatic meeting, reflecting Bangladesh’s aspirations for technological advancement and economic growth.

The inaugural bilateral FOC commenced after the courtesy call, facilitating discussions on political cooperation, economic collaboration, digital innovation, sustainable development, and educational exchange. Both sides addressed pressing regional and global security challenges, including the Rohingya crisis and conflicts in Myanmar, Ukraine, and Gaza.

Ambassador Masud Bin Momen and Ambassador Kristi Karelsohn emphasized the need for concerted efforts to bolster economic ties. Proposals for reciprocal visits by trade delegations, support for Bangladesh’s candidatures in international forums, and joint advocacy for Rohingya repatriation were discussed. The consultations culminated in an iftar and dinner program hosted by Ambassador Dr. Muhammad Nazrul Islam, fostering goodwill and laying a foundation for enduring cooperation.

The meeting between Bangladesh and Estonia signifies a milestone in diplomatic relations, promising mutual benefits through economic collaboration and shared advocacy on global issues. As both nations look towards the future, the partnership holds the potential to drive innovation, economic growth, and socio-economic advancement.