Bangladesh-Serbia Bilateral Relations
Bilateral relation with Serbia, being a part of former Yugoslavia, is rooted in history. After its independence on 16 December 1971, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was one of the first European countries to recognize Bangladesh on 22 January 1972. Subsequently, it played an important role for securing Bangladesh’s membership in different international organizations including UN and NAM. Bangladesh established its Embassy in Belgrade in May 1972. The two countries, as members of NAM, developed close and friendly relations. At the invitation of Bangladesh Government, the then Prime Minister of Yugoslavia H.E. Mr. Dzemal Bijedic paid a State Visit to Dhaka from 25-28 March 1973. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at the invitation of Mr. Bijedic, visited Yugoslavia during 26-31 July 1973. Later on, President Josip Broz Tito (Marshall Tito) visited Bangladesh from 29 January-02 February 1974. Presidential visits also took place from Bangladesh side in 1978, 1980 and 1983. Bangladesh-Yugoslavia Joint Commission was established in 1975, and its fifth and last session was held in Dhaka from 23-26 January 1987.
It may be mentioned here that due to the internal political situation in Yugoslavia leading to eventual disintegration, the country closed their mission in Dhaka in early 1992. Bangladesh also closed down its Embassy in Belgrade on 31 August 1992. Bangladesh Government and Serbia, successor State of former Yugoslavia, again decided to exchange their diplomatic Missions in 2003. In the year 2005, both the countries had appointed their Ambassadors in Rome and New Delhi as non-resident Ambassadors to Belgrade and Dhaka respectively.
Bilateral relations between the two countries got a new boost when Bangladesh Government decided to award former President of the country Mr. Josip Broz Tito as "Bangladesh liberation War Honour" who made immense contribution during the War of Liberation. Mr. Aleksandar Broz, the son of late President Josip Broz Tito, visited Bangladesh in March 2012 to receive the ‘Honour’ conferred to his father. Current Serbian Ambassador to Italy in Rome, Mr. Goran Aleksic, who happens to be nephew of late Tito, also accompanied Mr. Aleksandar for the Award ceremony.
Several meetings between the countries at the Foreign Minster level held in different multilateral forums. Former Bangladesh Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. Dipu Moni had several bilateral meetings with Serbian former Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. V. Jeremic on the fringes of multilateral meetings in Istanbul in 2009, in Sharm el-Sheikh, July 2009, in Manila, March 2010, in Bali, May 2011, in New York, September 2011 and in Sharm el-Sheikh, in May 2012. Former First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia H.E. Mr. Ivica Dacic met with the then Bangladesh Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali in The Hague, in the margins of the Global Conference on Cyberspace. From Serbian side Assistant Foreign Minister of Serbia visited Bangladesh to attend the ‘Global Leadership Meeting on Population Dynamics’ held in Dhaka organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh on 12-14 March 2013.
From Bangladesh, a Parliamentary delegation led by Hon'ble Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament H.E. Ms. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury had a meeting with the then First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Serbia Mr. Ivica Dacic on 16 October 2019 at the latter's office during the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Belgrade. Former Non-resident Ambassador of Bangladesh to Serbia Mr. Abdus Sobhan Sikder also had a meeting with him on 13 September 2019 in Belgrade. Besides, a team from National Defence College (NDC) of Bangladesh visited Serbia in September 2012. H.E. Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, MP, Hon’ble Foreign Minister had a very successful visit to Serbia from 10-13 October. He gave a statement on 11 October,2021 at the High Level Commemorative Meeting to Mark the 60th Anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM(11-12, October 2021, Belgrade) attended by over 40 Ministers and around 70 countries which was jointly hosted by Serbia and Azerbaijan. Honourable Minister met H.E. Mr. Aleksandar Vucic, the President of Serbia and three influential Ministers (Mr. Nikola Selaković, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and Ms. Tatjana Matic, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Telecommunication of Serbia) separately on the sidelines of the NAM event. Hon’ble Foreign Minister attended dinners hosted by Serbian Speaker and Foreign Minister, lunch hosted by Foreign Ministers of Serbian & Azerbaijan. Two MoUs (Visa Waiver of Diplomatic and Official Passports and Defence Cooperation) are expected to be signed in near future.
Economic Relations with Serbia
During 2018-2019, Bangladesh exported goods worth US$ 17.7 million to Serbia. Items exported from Bangladesh to Serbia includes apparel and clothing accessories, textiles (bed linen, toilet linen, table linen), footwear, headgear & parts, etc. On the other hand, Bangladesh’s import from Serbia was USD 2.20 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year. Import items include prepared food, tobacco, prepared animal fodder, products of chemicals, vehicles, aircraft, vessels & parts, etc. With regard to the economic component of the Bangladesh-Serbia relations, it may be construed from the economic data available that either of the two countries is yet to explore the full potentials of bilateral trade.
Investors or the entrepreneurs can make investment in Export Processing Zone (EPZ), BEZA and Hi-tech Parks of Bangladesh in the area of Footwear, ICT, Agro-processing food, Power sectors etc. Bangladesh and Serbia can sign Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) to offer a set of guarantees to investors of either contracting parties, including fair and equitable treatment, protection from expropriation, free transfer of means and full protection and security. Currently, Bangladesh has BITs with 33 countries. Discussion is on between the two countries to sign Avoidance of Double Taxation Treaties (DTTs) to protect income of foreign investors from being taxed in two different countries. Bangladesh has DTTs with 28 countries. Also discussion on signing of an MOU between the Chambers/Apex Bodies of the two countries is under process in order to increase the volume of trade between the two countries. Serbian Delegates are being encouraged to participate in the International Trade Fair in Bangladesh every year during January or Bangladesh delegate can participate in Serbian Trade Fair.