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Germany

Germany, Bangladesh Seek Ways to Boost Bilateral Trade

Bangladesh and Germany are to hold talks on bilateral trade and investment next week as a top German official travels to Dhaka on a two-day visit.

Textile workers in Bangladesh

Ready-made clothing makes up the bulk of Bangladesh's exports

Deputy Minister Reinhard Silberberg of the German Foreign Office will travel to Dhaka on January 27 to discuss a range of bilateral cooperation with his Bangladeshi counterpart Touhid Hossain, an official at the German embassy in Dhaka said this week.

Bilateral trade and investment, development cooperation and cultural initiatives between Bangladesh and Germany will top the agenda for official talks, scheduled for January 28.

Trade between the two countries is increasing with Germany now the second biggest export destination for Bangladesh after the United States.

Although ready-made clothing make up the bulk of Bangladesh's exports, the South Asian nation is also hoping to expand trade with Germany in other sectors.

Dhaka received a significant number of orders for shipbuilding from Germany, which imports textile machinery, chemicals and solutions for green energy among others to Bangladesh.

Trade between the two countries increased by 16 percent in the first half of 2008. Bilateral trade volume amounted to $2 billion in 2007, according to the German embassy in Dhaka.

New opportunities in education

Silberberg, who was assigned as a junior officer of the German foreign ministry in Dhaka in the early 1980s, visits Bangladesh at a time when a newly elected government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed has taken office, ending two years of rule by a military backed interim administration.

Bangladesh's new government wants stronger cooperation with its development partners.

Earlier this week, German and Bangladeshi education experts meeting in Dhaka called for further cooperation with colleges in Germany to improve cooperation in education and scientific research.

"Carrying out fundamental and innovative research in a number of areas between the two nations would help us keep pace with present global order," said Professor Nazrul Islam, chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), which regulates the allocation of funds for Bangladesh's public universities.

Islam, a geography professor, identified environment, genetic engineering, bio-technology and molecular science as fields where scholars from the two countries could take up joint research initiatives.

Senior professors from a number of public and private universities who attended the meeting, said the recent interest shown by German universities in their Bangladeshi counterparts presented opportunities for cooperation.

The meeting in Dhaka was jointly organized by Germany's Hamburg University and the Bangladesh Development Forum.

Hamburg University representative Professor Hans Peter Muehlbach said the institution was keen to work with Bangladeshi researchers.

"We have plans to set up a research unit in Bangladesh to create opportunities for experts as well as students sharing our technologies," he said.

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