Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Mr. Narayan Prakash Saud
at the event on ‘Realizing Energy Cooperation between Nepal and Bangladesh’
Organized by the Embassy of Nepal
(Dhaka, 13 May 2023)
Hon. Salman F Rahman, MP, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Private Industry and Investment,
Hon. Members of Parliament,
Ambassador of Nepal Mr. Ghanshaym Bhandari
Power Secretaries of both Nepal and Bangladesh
Eminent Business Leaders of Bangladesh
Fellow Nepali Nationals,
Friends from Media, and
Namaste and Shuvo Sandhya!
It is my pleasure to attend this programme. I thank the Ambassador and his team at the Embassy for bringing us all together.
As the Foreign Minister of Nepal, it is my second trip abroad and the first one in the neighborhood. I am pleased that it happens to be Bangladesh, with which Nepal has always enjoyed excellent relations.
I am here primarily to attend the 6th Indian Ocean Conference. But, besides very productive engagements at the Conference, my interactions with the Bangladeshi leadership have only encouraged me to work more resolutely for the mutual benefit of our countries and peoples.
The roots of Nepal-Bangladesh relations can be traced back to times predating Bangladesh’s Liberation War. Even during those times, our societies and communities shared close civilizational and socio-cultural linkages.
Nepal was the seventh country to recognize independent Bangladesh. After the establishment of formal diplomatic ties in 1972, our relationship has grown and prospered steadily.
Our friendship- both at the political and people-to-people levels- continues to be cemented on the principles of trust, cooperation, and mutual respect.
In recent years, the economic and commercial ties have witnessed significant growth.
Cooperation in terms of tourism linkages, education, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people contacts have also increased.
Having said this, however, there remains a huge untapped potential in diverse areas.
Hydroelectricity is one such area.
Needless to say, Nepal’s immense hydropower potential and Bangladesh’s growing energy needs, energy cooperation can be a ‘win-win enterprise’ for our two countries.
Currently, Nepal has an energy surplus. And, what we are producing now is just over 5 percent of what is economically viable. This means, if fully realized, Nepal’s hydropower can make tremendous contributions to the clean energy solutions of South Asia.
As has been stated by previous speakers, recent progress in our bilateral energy negotiations is encouraging.
We are making progressive strides towards the import of power from Nepal to Bangladesh. Once materialized, even if in the form of a small volume of 40-50MW to begin with, it would be a huge milestone not only for our bilateral relationship but also for the sub-regional cooperation.
Bangladesh and GMR Company of India are negotiating deals to import 500 MW of electricity from Nepal’s Upper Karnali project. Talks are also underway between our two governments about the joint investment in the 683 MW Sunkoshi-III Project.
We know energy trade will not be possible without connectivity, which is also a lifeline for sub-regional or regional cooperation.
We are encouraged by the recent response of the Government of India in facilitating energy cooperation in the sub-region.
Today, we have among us the Energy Secretaries of both countries who will be meeting in a couple of days’ time under the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) framework to deliberate on all the pertinent issues.
I am confident that the JSC meeting will be able to achieve tangible results to shape the future of energy cooperation between our two countries.
Nepal attaches a top priority to its relations with Bangladesh. As a close and friendly neighbour, we are happy to witness the impressive economic progress made by Bangladesh under the dynamic leadership of Hon. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Nepal and Bangladesh have similar opportunities and challenges in terms of their socio-economic development aspirations.
We must work together to tackle these challenges and exploit the opportunities- be it in terms of energy cooperation, tourism, trade, connectivity, or any other sector.
The role of private sector is crucial in this regard. I am pleased to note that today we have with us a good number of private sector representatives from both Nepal and Bangladesh.
Occasions like this foster B2B interactions and strengthen the foundation for future partnership. I encourage you all to listen to each other and build business networks for the mutual benefit of our two countries.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate Nepal’s commitment to consolidate the bilateral bonds with Bangladesh with more focus on economic cooperation. I invite you all to join hands towards this end.
Thank you for your attention.
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