Bangladesh and Serbia are very keen to increase bilateral trade as it is still in very low volume and expressed a desire to sign an agreement to facilitate bilateral trade.
The topic came up during a discussion between Bangladesh Foriegn Minister AK Abdul Momen and his visiting Serbian counterpart Nikola Selaković at the Foreign Service Academy on Wednesday.
Bedsides, Bangladesh is looking forward to sending skilled workforces to the Southeast European country.
Meanwhile, Dhaka-Belgrade signed two memorandum of understanding (MoUs) on Wednesday on visa exemptions for holders of diplomatic and official passports and also for those engaged in bilateral consultations between the ministries of foreign affairs.
The MoU was signed by the Bangladesh foreign minister and his Serbian counterpart.
"The agreement on visa waiver will be instrumental in exchanging visits between Bangladesh and Serbia and the MoU on the bilateral consultations between two foreign offices will be helpful in taking stock of the state of bilateral relations and also in finding new routes and new avenues of cooperation between our two countries," Momen said in a press briefing at foreign service academy where the Serbian minister was also present.
Momen said, "We discussed a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues. We discussed how we could harness the cordial relationship into economic cooperation to increase bilateral trade."
The FM said, "Our two foreign offices will work together to identify products and services. We hope to sign an agreement to facilitate bilateral trade."
Nikola Selaković said, "We have been discussing establishing direct communication between our two chambers of commerce. Because, getting business to business persons, people leading important and big companies at the same table is going to be the opportunity to reach our common interests and to boost our cooperation on a higher level."
Momen said that there would be a joint chamber of commerce so that trade and commerce can be accelerated.
During 2018-2019, Bangladesh exported goods worth $17.7 million to Serbia, according to the foreign ministry.
Items exported from Bangladesh to Serbia include apparel and clothing accessories, textiles, footwear, headgear and parts, etc.
On the other hand, Bangladesh's import from Serbia was $2.20 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Import items include prepared food, tobacco, prepared animal fodder, products of chemicals, vehicles, aircraft, vessels & parts, etc.
Possibility of sending skilled professionals
The Bangladesh FM said that they also discussed possibilities of sending doctors, engineers, nurses, skilled and semi-skilled workforce, and English teachers from Bangladesh to Serbia to meet the growing need.
"There is a scope in a sector that Serbia has engulf on a very large scale infrastructural development. They have a lot of jobs there," he said.
However, the FM mentioned that a problem was that their embassy was in New Delhi, so getting a visa was difficult.
"In addition, we discussed the issue of scholarship they offered to the students, but unfortunately only two students have applied for. So, may be people don't know about this scholarship for studying in Serbia," he added.
Bilateral relations with Serbia, being a part of former Yugoslavia, is rooted in history. After its independence on 16 December 1971, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was one of the first European countries to recognize Bangladesh on 22 January 1972.