France will continue to mobilise the international community to allow Rohingya populations a voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return to Myanmar, their country of origin, said a French envoy on Tuesday.
In his speech on the occasion of the French National Day on 14 July, Ambassador of France to Bangladesh Jean-Marin SCHUH appreciated Bangladesh's efforts to provide the best assistance for Rohingya people who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.
The envoy referred to cooperation between France and Bangladesh in the fields of environment, energy and transport as well as future areas of work such as blue economy, maritime security and defence.
"I look forward to working with you to prepare for the future: building resilience, adapting to the changing global environment, seizing new opportunities," he said.
He mentioned the last month's signing of the €12-million French grant agreement to support advanced digital solutions in Bangladesh's energy sector, which will prevent 1,04,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, thereby contributing to Bangladesh's climate goals.
Another agreement, aimed at supporting the national vaccination campaign, will be signed soon, the ambassador added.
Jean-Marin SCHUH recalled the ideals of the French Revolution – liberty, equality and fraternity –and warm friendship between the two countries ever since the Liberation War in 1971 when André Malraux supported the fight led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh.
As lives around the world have forever been changed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the French ambassador said the pandemic calls for a strong coordinated international response, recognising extensive immunisation as a global public good that must be available and affordable for all.
Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and France declined 15% to €2.76 billion in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Imports from Bangladesh fell by 15% to reach €2.52 billion in 2020, while French exports totalled €238 million, posting a 12% decline compared to 2019 figures.
Despite the fall, France remains Bangladesh's third-largest market in the European Union.
Apparels and some leather products represent 98% of French imports from Bangladesh, while French exports include electrical machinery and industrial equipment, such as gas turbines and equipment.