Despite these challenges, the country looks forward. “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has developed a comprehensive development program called ‘Smart Bangladesh’, intensified contacts with its strategic ally India, and is attracting new investments, the source said.
Élysée Palace called Bangladesh “a model country” in terms of financial management, with a debt level of 40 percent. There is no pressure on the country from creditors, as is the case in some developing countries, but instead, the country has strong economic fundamentals, high potential, and positive economic trends. A source told me that Bangladesh can become one of the world’s 30 largest economies by 2030 and that the country is looking to the rest of the world for support.
The French government wants to be part of the development and have a partnership with Bangladesh in sectors where it is strong. Thales is already setting up a radar system at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. In 2018, Bangabandhu-1, Bangladesh’s first satellite, was launched by the same company.
Airbus and Bangladesh Satellite Company Ltd. will sign a letter of intent today. During Hasina’s visit to France in 2021, both countries signed a letter of intent on defense cooperation.
Besides aeronautics, France is also eager to expand its cooperation in the energy sector in Bangladesh, which is still very carbon-intensive. This visit aims to accelerate the energy transition. To identify needs, there will be meetings at various levels,” said the diplomatic source in Paris.
Hydroelectricity, solar power, and nuclear power are options. Hydroelectricity is promising. According to the briefing at the Élysée Palace, solar energy also has potential.
The Agence Française de Développement (AFD)’s commitment to climate change adaptation and mitigation increased to €2 billion in recent years, according to the source. In the next three years, AFD projects will receive an additional €1 billion.
Besides humanitarian support for Rohingyas, France wants to work with Bangladesh on Rohingya issues at the global level.
The diplomat said France is now focusing on South Asia as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy. Meanwhile, South Asian countries are also looking towards France amid pressure from the US, China, and even Russia. “There is a strong political will to commit to an area with great potential.”