Singapore and Bangladesh celebrate 50 years of relations

The Hopea ododrata being planted by Mr Tauhedul Islam and Mr Derek Loh, the High Commissioners of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Singapore respectively. PHOTO: RYAN GOH

SINGAPORE - As one of the top investors in Bangladesh, Singapore remains upbeat about the South Asian country's economic potential.

Singapore is also appreciative of the contributions of the Bangladeshi community here, including towards the country's development, said President Halimah Yacob on Wednesday (Feb 16).

In a congratulatory letter to President of Bangladesh Mohammad Abdul Hamid, Madam Halimah said Singapore was the first South-east Asian country to establish diplomatic relations with Bangladesh in 1972.

Both countries established diplomatic relations on Feb 16, 1972, marking the 50th anniversary of the occasion on Wednesday.

"Since then, our bilateral ties have continued to grow and prosper in a meaningful and mutually beneficial manner," Madam Halimah said, adding that despite the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, both countries have continued to keep up with exchanges and strengthened cooperation.

She said: "I am confident that we will be able to take the bilateral ties between our two countries to greater heights in the years ahead."

In commemoration of the anniversary, trees were planted at Jurong Lake Gardens on Wednesday.

The ceremony was attended by Mr Tauhedul Islam, Bangladesh's High Commissioner to Singapore, and Mr Derek Loh, Singapore's High Commissioner to the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

The species of trees planted by the diplomats is Hopea odorata, which is native to Bangladesh but can be found across South-east Asia, including in Singapore.

Singapore is the third largest investor in Bangladesh. From 2019 to 2020, Singapore invested about US$168 million (S$226 million) in the country, in sectors such as power and port logistics.

About 150,000 Bangladeshis have called Singapore home, with most working in the construction, marine and conservancy sector.

Mr Loh said Bangladesh plays a crucial role in complementing Singapore economically.

He said: "The people of Bangladesh have helped build Singapore's infrastructure. It is a country of significant size and is one of the fastest growing countries in South Asia, so there are growing business and trade opportunities."

Singapore is also exploring the possibility of a free-trade agreement with Bangladesh, he added.

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