On February 11, Italy and Bangladesh celebrated the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.
On February 12, 1972, immediately after Bangladesh gained independence, Italy was among the first countries to recognize the new state and among the first to support its United Nations membership application.
For the occasion, Secretary-General of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amb. Ettore Francesco Sequi met with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Shameem Ahsan.
During the meeting, the Secretary-General delivered to Ambassador Ahsan a message of good wishes addressed by Italian FM Luigi Di Maio to Bengali FM, Abdul Momen.
The meeting was also an opportunity to take stock of the state of relations between Rome and Dhaka, defined as “excellent” by the Italian Foreign Ministry. Both parties say they aim at strengthening bilateral cooperation on issues such as migration, defense, and energy.
Italy is one of the main destinations for Bangladeshi migrants. One of the reasons is Italy’s geographical position that makes it the country of arrival of many migrants that reach Europe through the African routes. Another reason is the presence of a large Bengali community in Italy. Many of the 150,000 Bengalis who live in Italy “are employed in agriculture, construction, and street trading,” ambassador Ahsan told news website InfoMigrants. According to the Ambassador, Bengalis perceive Italy as a welcoming place, where it is relatively easy to get a permanent residency.
For what concerns economic relations, Italy is the seventh customer and the twenty-first supplier of Bangladesh. Bangladesh exports clothing, footwear, fabrics, and leather products to Italy. Italian exports to Bangladesh, on the other hand, are mainly composed of machinery and chemicals. Except for 2020, bilateral trade has grown significantly in recent years, reaching a value of €2.1 billion in 2019.
The economic boom that Bangladesh experienced over the last years makes it an even more attractive partner for Italy, especially in light of Italy’s goal of strengthening exports to Asia.
The growing importance of bilateral trade is also demonstrated by the recent creation of a direct link between the ports of Ravenna and Chattogram, in south-eastern Bangladesh, by the shipping company Kalypso.