Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said it is possible to make a big lead into the socio-economic development of the people of South Asia through utlising huge potential of the maritime sector in the region.
“There’s huge potential of the maritime sector in South Asia and utilising the potential, it’s possible to make a big lead into the socio-economic development of the people of this region,” she said.
The Prime Minister was inaugurating the two-day 2nd South Asia Maritime and Logistics Forum 2018 at hotel Le Méridien Dhaka.
She said Bangladesh has already settled the maritime boundary disputes with two neighbours — with Myanmar in 2012 and with India in 2014 -– through which it reclaimed 118,813 square kilometres of the Bay of Bengal. “The total area of resources includes 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone and over 354 nautical miles of resources on seabed.”
It is estimated that the resources from the sea of Bangladesh constitute 81 percent of the resources existing in its land territory, Sheikh Hasina said.
She said the South Asian geographic region has been on a major focus in recent times because of global economic growth, trade and market expansion which in turn creates a huge opportunity to expand logistics and maritime-related services. “With the increasing economic growth of the country, international trade is increasing day by day through the waterway,” she said.
The Prime Minister said the government has adopted the Blue Economy Policy to utlise this huge resources in the country’s socioeconomic development. “I think by utlising the resources, we could be able to expedite our socioeconomic development further,” she said.
She also mentioned that the government, in cooperation with the government of the Netherlands, has prepared and endorsed the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100.
Mentioning that the country faces major inter-related delta challenges in water safety, food security and socio-economic development and is prone to natural calamities such as flood, cyclone and drought, Sheikh Hasina said, “One of the main components of Delta Plan is to accelerate the GDP growth through proper utilisation of water resources.”
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan presided over the programme where Indian State Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh Laxmanbhai Mandaviya and Sri Lankan State Minster for National Policies and Economic Affairs Dr Harsha De Silva also spoke at the programme.
The South Asia Maritime and Logistics Forum 2018 is being held for the second time. The first conference was held in Mumbai, India.
The conference is a joint initiative of the Shipping Ministry, India’s Gateway Media Private Ltd and Sri Lanka’s Colombo Maritime Conference Events to increase regional cooperation for developing infrastructure in the shipping sector and maritime logistics.
Around 120 government and private representatives from 20 countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan, are participating in the two-day conference.
The participants are discussing obstacles to development of ports in South Asia and how regional trade among the countries can be improved by using the ports, ways for development of the shipping sector in Bangladesh and prospects for investment in the sector.
In five business sessions, there will be discussion on port infrastructure in South Asia, cargo transportation system, dredging, shipbuilding and intra-regional trade.
Besides, businessmen from Bangladesh and other countries are scheduled to hold one-to-one meetings on trade prospects on the sidelines of the conference.