Venezuela to extend energy and IT technology help to Bangladesh

May 28, 2001 02:00 AM

Venezuela will extend technical cooperation to Bangladesh in the energy and information technology sectors, while looking for new ways to expand economic ties, a top Bangladesh Foreign Ministry official said. The offers came after nearly 90 minutes of talks between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who began a brief visit to the South Asian country, Foreign Secretary Syed Muazzem Ali told.
"Venezuela will resume training of Bangladeshi technicians in the natural gas industry and IT sector," Ali said. "They are also willing to give us technical help to set up IT centres and e-commerce," he added. Venezuela is a petroleum-producing country with 120 years of experience in gas and oil exploration, while Bangladesh only started tapping into its rich natural gas resources 50 years back.

Bangladesh is also a newcomer to the IT revolution, with only 700,000 computers and 60,000 Internet connections in a population of nearly 130 mm, with per capita income of $ 370. Bangladesh has known natural gas reserves of nearly 420 bn cm (15 tcf), but foreign oil companies prospecting here estimate untapped reserves to be up to 1.7 tcm ( 60 tcf), with possibility of oil finds.
Venezuela used to train Bangladeshi gas workers, but the program stopped a decade ago due to financing problems, Ali said. The two leaders also discussed social and rural development, micro-credit programs for the poor, and ways to boost trade and commercial ties, Ali said.
Venezuela will send a high level delegation in the future to identify new ways of expanding trade and investment prospects, Ali said. Bangladesh's annual trade with Venezuela amounts to less than a mm $ from imports of machinery for its gas industry and exports of jute and some textiles.

Bangladesh is an overcrowded nation prone to devastating cyclones and floods. Venezuela is six times the size of Bangladesh, with one-fifth its population and per capita income nearly ten times higher. Bangladesh President Shahabuddin Ahmed and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier welcomed Chavez on his arrival at Dhaka's Zia International Airport from the Indian city of Bombay. The Venezuelan president was given a 21 gun salute and guard of honour by the Bangladesh armed forces.
Chavez began his visit by laying a wreath and planting a tree at a national memorial to Bangladeshi war heroes in the countryside outside the capital. On his way back to Dhaka, Chavez ignored his security detail and stopped his limousine on a bridge over a small river, got down and talked to astonished villagers and waved to passing boats below.
"Chavez said the river reminded him of his hometown," Ali said. Chavez later visited the Dhaka house, now a museum, where Bangladesh's founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was assassinated in a military coup in 1975. Chavez attended a state dinner hosted by President Ahmed. He leaves Bangladesh for China.

Source: AP
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