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The Financial Express

BD opens Saidpur Airport to Nepal; greater trade expected

Published: February 18, 2020 19:54:20 | Updated: February 19, 2020 10:35:34


BD opens Saidpur Airport to Nepal; greater trade expected

Bangladesh has agreed to allow Nepal to use its Saidpur Airport as part of strengthening trade and connectivity between the two countries.

Welcoming the Nepalese proposal, Bangladesh says a technical expert committee will now look into what types of flights can be operated between Nepal and Bangladesh though Saidpur Airport.

“We’re expanding the airport. Currently, 12-14 flights go to Saidpur Airport (from Dhaka). So, people (who will be coming from Nepal) can come to Dhaka easily," Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters while briefing on the outcome of the bilateral talks between the two countries on Tuesday.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr Momen had a bilateral meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Pradeep Kumar Gyawali at state guesthouse Meghna and discussed how the two countries can enhance trade, investment and connectivity, including use of seaports.

The airport situated on 136.59 acres of land started its journey as a domestic airport in 1979. Saidpur Airport is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, according to Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).

This Airport is located at 2 kms off Saidpur town and 350 kms off Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Novoair and US-Bangla Airlines are presently operating their passenger flights from and to Saidpur Airport, according to CAAB.

Talking to reporters, Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar said they discussed how the two countries can develop connectivity, transit, transport and power sector cooperation. “We’ll form a taskforce which will discuss ways to develop trade and connectivity.”

He said Bangladesh has recently permitted Indian company GMR to invest in hydropower in Nepal that will provide 500 MW of power from Nepal to Bangladesh through Indian company GMR group.

"It’ll open a new chapter in power sector cooperation," he said adding that Nepal has made every arrangement to facilitate smooth construction of the mega project.

Bangladesh and Nepal signed an MoU on power cooperation last year.

Responding to a UNB question, the Nepalese Foreign Minister said the two countries are exploring to sign a preferential trade agreement (PTA).          

“Draft of the PTA is under discussion. We hope we’ll finalise it. Bilateral agreement on protection of investment is also on the table. We’re expecting that we’ll do it at the earliest,” Minister Pradeep Kumar said adding that it is very important to protect the foreign investment.

Foreign Minister Dr Momen said they have discussed connectivity, tourism, climate and Rohingya issues and ways to remove trade barriers specially non-tariff barriers.

The two ministers expressed satisfaction over the discussion and said both countries are connected well on many fronts.

Later, the Nepal Foreign Minister attended a discussion on "Bangladesh-Nepal Relations: Prospects for Sub-regional Cooperation" at BIISS auditorium in the city where he delivered the keynote speech.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam spoke as the chief guest at the event organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and highlighted various aspects of the bilateral relations.    

BIISS Chairman Ambassador M Fazlul Karim also spoke at the event.

Speaking on the occasion, the Nepalese Foreign Minister laid emphasis on engaging more proactively between the two countries to tap the potential between the two countries.

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