French President Emmanuel Macron visited Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. During his visit, Macron witnessed the signing of a deal that would facilitate loans to Bangladesh for infrastructure development. Additionally, a letter of intent was signed to provide Bangladesh with an earth observation satellite system.
The agreement was signed between Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Division and the French Development Agency. Details of the deal were not immediately available, as the authorities are still working out the specifics. The satellite system, which will be purchased by Bangladesh, will be used for observing crops and monitoring the sea, as the country currently lacks such monitoring capabilities.
This is not the first satellite purchase by Bangladesh, as the country bought its first geostationary communications and broadcasting satellite, Bangabandhu Satellite-1, from France in 2018. The visit of President Macron is seen as a positive step in attracting investments from France in sectors where the United States, China, and India are heavily involved.
In addition to economic cooperation, Macron and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also discussed regional and global stability, peace, and addressing the impacts of climate change. France has reiterated its commitment to facilitate trade with Bangladesh under the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme.
The visit of President Macron is expected to have political and strategic significance ahead of Bangladesh’s next general election, scheduled for January. It is seen as a boost for Prime Minister Hasina, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term. The main opposition party has threatened to boycott the election if Hasina does not resign and hand over power to a caretaker government to oversee the process.
While the United States has raised concerns about human rights under Hasina’s rule and has been pushing for a credible election, Russia, China, and India have expressed support for her. Macron’s visit, along with the deals signed, is seen as a positive development for Hasina in the lead-up to the election.