Eu-Bangladesh Relations

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EU-Bangladesh Relations at a glance:
Since Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971, its population has grown from about 70 million people to 150 million or more in 2009. Over the same time period, the population of the European Community has expanded as new countries have joined. From six EC Member States in 1971 with a combined population of some 210 million, the European Union (EU) as it is now called has 27 Member States with some 500 million people. The European Community (EC) established diplomatic relations with Bangladesh in 1973. Some nine years later the European Commission established an office in Dhaka, which was upgraded to a full-fledged Delegation in 1989. Under the EC-Bangladesh Co-operation Agreement of 2001, co-operation now covers trade and economic development, human rights, good governance and the environment. Today more than half of Bangladesh’s total exports go to the EU (56% in 2007). Bangladesh benefits from the most preferential trade arrangement granted unilaterally by the EU to LDCs, known as the "Everything but Arms" (EBA) scheme. EBA maintains the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for an unlimited period of time, so that it is not subject to periodic renewal as is the case for some other countries. Bangladesh now enjoys a significant trade surplus with the EU, with exports of €5.5 billion in 2008 compared with imports from the EU of €1.1 billion. The European Union is among the three biggest donors of grant finance to Bangladesh, estimated at €440 million in 2008. The EC is (after the UK) the second largest EU donor to Bangladesh, with €403 million allocated under the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for 2007-13. The CSP sets out the following priorities for assistance: health, education, good governance and human rights, economic and trade development, disaster management and food security. The EU is broadly supportive of the Government's reformist agenda, and emphasises the need for it to deliver on its promises and to ensure compliance with Bangladesh’s human rights obligations. Political issues raised by the EU include: extrajudicial killings and torture in custody; women’s rights; children’s rights (including in particular child labour, especially in dangerous environments such as ship-breaking yards); minority rights, in particular those of the hill tribes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts; rights of refugees, especially Rohingyas; and reinforcement of the independent judiciary and of bodies which assure democratic checks and balances.

History of EC/EU-Bangladesh Relations:
1973 The European Community (EC) established diplomatic relations with Bangladesh, and Food Aid to Bangladesh started. 1976 The first formal agreement between the European Commission and the Bangladesh Government, the "Commercial Co-operation Agreement" was signed. Food aid was the predominant field of assistance from EC to Bangladesh in the initial years. 1977 The first session of the Joint Commission took place. The two major areas of activities were trade promotion and economic cooperation. 1980 The EC-Bangladesh Agreement on Trade and Jute Products was concluded. The European Community agreed to remove all quantitative restrictions on jute imports from Bangladesh from 1 January 1984. 1982 The European Commission established its Dhaka Office under the South Asia Representative office in Delhi. 1988 The EC and the government of Bangladesh signed a Science and Technology Cooperation agreement. The cooperation aimed at strengthening the research capabilities of Bangladesh, with a focus on agriculture and water resources management. 1989 The European Commission upgraded its representation in Bangladesh, establishing a full fledged delegation office in Dhaka. 1993 The first EC-Bangladesh Country Strategy Paper was published. Initially covering the period of 1993-1996 but later extended to 1998, this paper focused EC's development strategy on poverty alleviation and food security in Bangladesh. NGO cooperation received...
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