Trade, immigration to dominate in PM’s Italy visit

Sheikh Shahariar Zaman
Published : 06:00, Jan 18, 2020 | Updated : 16:49, Jan 18, 2020

Prime Minsiter Sheikh Hasina. File Photo/Focus BanglaThe Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will go on a bilateral trip to Italy on the first week of February at the invitation of Italian premier Giuseppe Conte. During the trip, trade, commerce, investment, immigration, Rohingya and other issues will be discussed.
On the other hand, Italy is eager to discuss about military assistance and energy. During this visit, deals may be signed on foreign office consultation, assistance between foreign service academies of two countries, cultural exchange and other issues.
An official of the foreign ministry said: “Europe is an important bilateral partner and last year, the prime minister, during her trip to Europe, gave directions about improving ties with European nations.”
While the PM had visited the Netherlands and Sweden in the past, this is her first bilateral visit.
“Through this visit, we want to send a political message to other countries that Europe is very important; we want more Europeans to visit Bangladesh with our leadership reciprocating.”
Already, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, visited Russia, France, Germany and other European nations, said the official.
The bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Italy has exceeded $2 billion and of this, export from Bangladesh is over $1.6 billion.
A foreign minister spokesperson says: “As per statistics, we export ready-made garments the most, followed by leather items while imported items from Italy are worth around $ 600 million of which most is machinery for the textile industry. We want to increase trade and encourage Italian investment in Bangladesh.”
For both countries, immigration is a vital issue because as per Italian accounts, around 140,000 Bangladeshis are living in Italy.
“After UK, the most number of Bangladeshis are in Italy and most of them have gone there illegally; there is a dearth of skilled workers in Italy which Bangladesh can supply. We want to send workers legally,” said a foreign ministry official.
There was an agreement in the past to send workers to Italy legally and under this, around 18,000 Bangladeshis went though less than 100 came back within the stipulated time.
So, the Italian government suspended it in 2012. Regarding military assistance from Italy, a spokesperson said: “We have had initial discussion on the matter and we shall take a decision giving priority to our national interests.”