Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's three-day goodwill visit to Myanmar, which is to wrapp up here Wednesday, has geared up bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
During the first visit by a Bangladesh leader to Myanmar in eight years, Hasina had discussions with Myanmar President U Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw with both leaders expressing wishes to further strengthen the existing friendly relations and promote bilateral cooperation in all sectors especially economy.
Noting that both countries are collaborating in the areas of regional organizations such as BIMST-EC, ASEAN and ARF and the United Nations, Hasina said Bangladesh would like to cooperate in building motor roads and railroads linking the two countries to improve bilateral trade and economy.
She also expressed her country's interest in cooperation in hydropower and oil and gas sectors.
U Thein Sein, on Myanmar's part, looks forward to seeing resumption of suspended flights between the two countries, vowing to continue bilateral cooperation in maritime sector which has been negotiated.
Pointing out that trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh touched only 137 million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2010-11, Thein Sein stressed the need for both sides to make efforts to increase the volume of trade to reach 500 million dollars, saying that Myanmar wishes to enhance both border trade and regular trade between the two countries.
The two sides agreed to handover Myanmar citizens stranded in Bangladesh step by step.
On the occasion, the two countries signed two accords on bilateral cooperation -- an agreement on establishment of a joint commission for bilateral cooperation between the two governments and a memorandum of understanding on setting up of a cooperation commission office between chambers of commerce and industry of the two countries.
Moreover, Hasina attended a foundation stone laying ceremony for construction of Bangladesh embassy in Nay Pyi Taw Diplomatic Zone, signifying the set-up of the first foreign diplomatic mission office in Myanmar's new capital after the administration was moved there from Yangon in 2005.
To promote bilateral trade and facilitate trade transaction, Myanmar proposed in 2009 to establish direct banking system between the two countries to replace trade payments settled through the third countries of Thailand and Singapore.
The Bangladesh side also emphasized the need to promote the bilateral trade and change the trend of border trade to normal trade.
Myanmar has two border points with Bangladesh -- Sittway and Maungtaw in western Rakhine state.
Myanmar exports to Bangladesh marine products, beans and pulses, and kitchen crops, while it imports from Bangladesh pharmaceuticals, ceramic, cotton fabric, raw jute, kitchenware and cosmetic. The two countries formally opened border trade in 1994.
Bilateral trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh stood around 140 million U.S. dollars annually for the past few years.
Official statistics show that Myanmar exported 23,000 tons of marine products to Bangladesh annually, standing as Bangladesh's fifth largest marine products importing country out of 30.
Myanmar and Bangladesh initiated an agreement on avoidance of double taxation in 2008.
In transport cooperation, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement in Dhaka in July 2007 to establish a 25-kilometer (km) direct road link between the two neighbors to boost trade and tourism. The 1.41-billion-taka (about 20 million-U.S.-dollar) " Friendship Road" from Gundhum in Cox's Bazaar of Bangladesh to Baulibazar in Myanmar was also designed to connect China's Kunming under tri-nation road connectivity which will give further access to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and to the Asian Highway.
Under the agreement, Bangladesh was to provide the fund for the road construction with 2 km inside Bangladesh and the other 23 km inside Myanmar.
In January 2002, Bangladesh opened a river port at Teknaf in the southernmost of the country, providing the shortest river link with Maungtaw to facilitate their bilateral trade.
Besides border trade, Myanmar and Bangladesh also placed emphasis on maritime trade, signing in Yangon a technical protocol on coastal sea-borne trade between the two countries in July 2004.
Furthermore, Myanmar and Bangladesh are also enhancing cooperation in the development of hydropower, seeking to build hydropower plants in Myanmar and export electricity to Bangladesh.