Dutch Foreign Trade Minister calls Foreign Minister Momen, assures of support in RMG sector

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands Sigrid Kaag called Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen yesterday to talk about the impact of COVID19, and to discuss way forward.

In the telephone meeting, Dr. Momen raised the issue of cancellation of orders by different European brands/buyers, and pointed out that 3.18 billion dollars worth of orders has already been cancelled or suspended by the international buyers, already affecting 1150 factories and 2.28 million workers. He requested the Dutch Minister to ensure that buyers and brands from the Netherlands do not cancel their orders with RMG factories of Bangladesh. Minister Kaag of the Netherlands assured Foreign Minister Momen that the Dutch buyers will not cancel or suspend their orders from the Bangladeshi RMG factories. She also mentioned that the Dutch Government would ensure that the RMG value chain would not be disrupted.

The challenges are arising because of COVID19 pandemic, and the way forward was discussed in detail during the telephone call between the two Ministers. Minister Sigrid Kaag informed that Dutch Government has created a fund of 100 Million Euros to help countries that need support because of COVID19 pandemic. She informed that countries that are interested to use the fund would need to request for allocation of fund.

On the issue of the Rohingya crisis, Foreign Minister Momen explained to Minister Kaag of the Netherlands that the around 500 Rohingyas who are on two boats are not in or even near the Bangladesh maritime border. He pointed out that according to the law of the seas, other countries in the region have responsibilities to save the Rohingyas. Dutch Minister agreed that if Bangladesh continues to rescue boat loads of Rohingyas again and again then it may work as a decoy for Myanmar and encourage them to push more Rohingya to the deep sea. Foreign Minister Momen expressed thanks to the Dutch Government for supporting the cause of the Rohingyas, and for supporting them during the trial at the International Court of Justice. Minister Kaag assured Dr. Momen that her country would continue to strongly support the Rohingyas in their journey for justice and accountability.

Foreign Minister Momen thanked Minister Kaag for the Dutch support to Bangladesh on developing the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, and sought continued support, which was assured by the Dutch Minister. On the issue of FDI, Bangladesh Foreign Minister mentioned that FDI would be negatively affected by the COVID19 pandemic, and requested for Dutch technical assistance in FDI in the areas of agriculture and fisheries. Minister Kaag responded positively to the request, and mentioned that the Netherlands would be ready to support Bangladesh in this regard. Foreign Minister Momen and Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Kaag also talked about support in the area of addressing the challenge of river erosion in Bangladesh.

Dr. Momen also raised the issue of the impact of COVID19 in the Middle East, where 11.2 million Bangladeshi expatriate workers have lost their job. He also pointed out the importance that their remittance plays in the economy of Bangladesh. Dr. Momen informed the Dutch Minister that Bangladesh had approached the Governments of the Middle East with two specific requests: to ensure that the Bangladeshis, including those who have lost their jobs, do not starve; and to ensure 6 months’ salaries for the Bangladeshi workers who had been terminated. Dr. Momen requested for support of Dutch Government in convincing the Middle Eastern Governments on these two issues. Minister Sigrid Kaag replied that she would talk to Dutch Ambassadors in that region.

In the telephone meeting that lasted close to half-an-hour, both Ministers agreed to work together on issues of common and global interest.

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