Laos could benefit from Rohingya crisis resolution – OpEd – Eurasia Review


Laos-Myanmar-Bangladesh could trade some regional advantages, but the Rohingya issue needs to be resolved. The closer ties between Bangladesh and Myanmar have great economic potential, but the regional crisis should be resolved as quickly as possible to secure the greatest interests of South Asia and Southeast Asia, including including Laos. Myanmar is one of Bangladesh’s closest neighbors with historic connectivity dating back centuries. The 271 km long Bangladesh-Myanmar border is very important to Bangladesh due to its strategic position, although at present the area is militarized due to its ongoing internal conflicts. If this were resolved, Bangladesh could develop routes through Myanmar to access China in the east and other Southeast Asian countries in the south.

On the other hand, Laos is a neighboring state of Myanmar. Myanmar and Laos can access South Asia through Bangladesh. If Laos connects to the Bangladesh-Myanmar-Thailand-India Connectivity Project and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Connectivity Corridor, Laos will benefit. Huge potential awaits Cambodia. If both projects can actually be implemented, Laos will be a winner in this regard. Improving relations between Bangladesh and Myanmar is essential in this regard. Laos is a very friendly country with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Myanmar can also use Bangladesh as a transportation route to reach markets such as Nepal, Bhutan and India. Bangladesh and Myanmar are both members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), an organization made up of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand seeking cooperation. Laos can and should join BIMSTEC to reap the benefits. Being a landlocked country, Laos can use the roads to easily enter the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. It would then be able to strengthen its trade links with South Asia, Central Asia and Asia in the Middle East. Laos can easily reduce its dependence on Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in this regard.

Bangladesh is a country in Southeast Asia and can be used as an important hub to connect ASEAN and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). members of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka is difficult. Myanmar, as a member of ASEAN, can also access the SAARC free trade bloc through Bangladesh. In this way, Laos would benefit economically to strengthen its trade relations. Laos will be able to ensure its commercial interest as much as possible. Laos can easily access the market of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have also settled a dispute over their maritime borders through the International Court of Justice. As a result, Bangladesh’s rights were established over an area of ​​1,11,000 square kilometers. Myanmar waters have also been correctly identified. Bangladesh-Myanmar-Laos has the potential to invest in maritime trade in the Bay of Bengal. These countries should use and extract the maritime resource from the maritime area. The blue economy can also be beneficial for Bangladesh-Myanmar-Laos.

The Asian Highway construction project, funded by the Asian Development Bank, can increase land connectivity between the two countries and increase trade in commodities such as fertilizers, plastics, cement and furniture, etc. Laos should join the project to ensure maximum activity. interest.

Myanmar and Laos, which currently have sophisticated manufacturing, can import electronics and pharmaceuticals that are easily made from Bangladesh and benefit from technology transfer. Bangladesh-Myanmar-Laos has potential for rice production and fishing. A trilateral effort is very necessary here. Bangladeshi medicines, clothing from agricultural products, footwear and leather goods, knitwear, pharmaceuticals, tableware, home textiles, textiles, seafood and seafood, tea, potatoes, jute and jute products, engineered products light, spices, cosmetics and ceramics, toilets, etc. can be exported easily to Laos via Myanmar.

According to the Bangladeshi media, On the other hand. Laos mainly exports machinery, boilers, man-made staple fibers, paper and cardboard, pulp, paper and cardboard articles, cotton, pearls, precious stones, metals, coins. coins, raw hides and skins (other than fur skins) and leather, etc. to Bangladesh. One of the major problems is the lack of adequate transport links for the expansion of bilateral trade between the two countries. The two countries are working to solve this transport problem and are in the process of joining the Asian highway network, which is expected to solve this problem.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Laos in 2012. Bangladesh and Laos support each other in various international forums. In 2012, Laos supported the inclusion of Bangladesh in EMSA.

China is now the biggest investor in Myanmar. China has invested more than US $ 3 billion since fiscal year 2016-2017. One of the most strategic elements of these investments is the US $ 1.3 billion deepwater port of Kyaukphyu, which when completed can provide China’s Yunnan Province with a shortcut to the Indian Ocean. Cambodia may derive certain benefits from investments for its own benefit.

The country’s biggest economic advantage for Myanmar is that it is a member of ASEAN. ASEAN controls about 24 percent of total world trade and its share in world trade is increasing every year. ASEAN’s trade relations with China, Japan and South Korea are deepening due to increased trade and the upcoming RCEP deal. ASEAN countries account for over 50 percent of total trade between them and these three countries.

Bangladesh is keen to provide assistance to Myanmar. The distribution of vaccines against Covid-19 and training in the fight against terrorism are areas of cooperation. The Rohingya refugee problem has, however, created tensions between the two countries, and finding a solution may serve the long-term interests of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and even Laos. Myanmar and Bangladesh should resolve this issue to serve their own interests and that of the region. Myanmar must understand that this is what is at stake in the region. All of South Asia and Southeast Asia can be volatile and unstable for this problem.

Laos can play a very important role in this regard. Laos can act as a mediator to strengthen the strained relations between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Laos can play to repatriate the Rohingya from Rakhine to Myanmar. Laos can easily solve the problem because it has very good relations with Myanmar.

However, the three countries can also increase production in the agricultural sector through joint ventures. Besides adopting joint investment projects, Bangladesh can increase imports of various agricultural products, including pulses, spices, fish and rice. Thus, strengthening trilateral relations could contribute to the growth of trade and investment relations with ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries. This will create an opportunity to resolve the Rohingya problem and stop militant activities. Therefore, Myanmar should take effective measures to strengthen bilateral relations in order to connect Southeast Asia with South Asia. Laos should play an effective role in motivating Myanmar to strengthen its ties with Bangladesh. Laos should take important initiatives to resolve the crisis. The advantage awaits not only Myanmar but also Laos.


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