Romanian Ambassador to Bangladesh, India and Nepal, Daniela-Mariana Sezonov Tane has said her country could help Bangladesh produce hydropower through building mini plants by taking advantage of the many rivers in Bangladesh.
“You have many rivers. You can make more energy out of that. Bangladesh is one of the countries with very few renewable energy percentages. Two to three percent renewable energy is absolutely not enough,” she told UNB in an interview.
The Ambassador based in New Delhi said Bangladesh is one of the countries most affected by climate change and it really needs to go for green energy as coal is bringing pollution everywhere and increasing the concentration of CO2 gases in the atmosphere.
“You need to make the energy transition. Bangladesh is very rich in rivers. So, you can build more hydropower plants, even small ones,” she said.
Ambassador Tane said her country will closely work with Bangladesh to enhance the bilateral ties with more concrete business to take the relations further.
“We need to do more business. I hope in the next two years, we will have US$ 200 million bilateral trade, from the existing around US$ 50 million. Both our countries have the capacity. It’s not so difficult. It just needs concerted efforts on both sides,” she said, adding that some Romanian companies could invest in Bangladesh, provided they are informed about the existing opportunities.
In October last year, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen visited Romania and held political consultations with his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu. They took full stock of various aspects of bilateral ties and discussed important regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.
The visit represented the most significant diplomatic contact of high ranking officials in the last 30 years between Romania and Bangladesh.
“This is one way of enhancing our relations by intensifying our bilateral political dialogue,” said the Ambassador, noting that during the visit the two countries signed MoU to hold regular political consultations between the two foreign ministries.
The Romanian envoy who plans to come to Bangladesh twice a year said the second way is to enhance their economic contact. She said she had fruitful meetings with the government and private sectors to find ways to increase the trade.
Romania is a major European wheat producer with a high potential to export its production. In 2021/2022, Romania produced 11 Mmt of Wheat and ranked as the fourth producer in the EU. In the same period, Romania’s exports reached 8.6 Mmt, to rank as the primary EU wheat extra-trader.
The Ambassador said Bangladesh was importing wheat from Ukraine. The Russian “aggression” and the war which broke out disrupted Ukrainian wheat exports.
“So, we can see how it is possible to be part of Bangladesh’s wheat import. We are big producers of wheat,” she said.
Responding to a question, Ambassador Tane said, “There is a need in Bangladesh but we have to first see with the Romanian producers the available stocks and the possibilities of exporting here.”
She identified agricultural products export as one of the areas to focus apart from a potential participation of Romanian companies, as subcontractors, to build infrastructure in the hydropower field and modernize its only refinery – Eastern Refinery Limited.
“Romania has big expertise in refineries and we are big producers of spare parts for refiners,” she added.
The Romanian envoy said the Port of Constanța, which is the biggest port on the Black Sea, could be made a hub for Bangladeshi exports in Central and Eastern Europe.
“It can be very convenient. We are going to work on this. In my next visit I will try to see and meet Chittagong Port Authority officials and see how it is possible to make this happen. Making Constanta a hub for Bangladeshi exports for Central and Eastern Europe could shorten the transportation time and the costs and increase the connectivity between the two countries and regions,” she added.
The Romanian Government allowed the recruitment of around 100,000 foreign workers from various South Asian countries, including Bangladeshis, for various sectors: construction, agriculture, hotels, restaurants, various other services etc.
“There is opportunity. We are trying to work on a G to G basis because there are too many agencies and middlemen involved which are taking a lot of money from Bangladesh workers. This is unacceptable. It is kind of modern slavery,” she said.
The Ambassador said, “In Romania they don’t face problems. They are well received and the Romanian employers are treating them well.
Responding to a question, she said quite a big number of Bangladesh workers who are going to Romania with work visas are fleeing.
“They don’t go because of the bad conditions of work or living, they go because there are networks which are basically taking them illegally to Europe and they leave hoping to get better wages, but they end up being irregular migrants there,” Ambassador Tane said.
“Many of the Bangladeshi non skilled workers don’t speak English. They are not trained. Some of them need training. Some of them are trained by the Romanian companies after their arrival.
Bangladesh and Romania are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year with a vow to further deepen the relations on bilateral and multilateral fronts.
Romania was one of the first European states to recognize newly independent Bangladesh and stands ready to continue developing and deepening the very good relations with Bangladesh at bilateral and multilateral level.
The traditional bilateral relations attained a renewed dynamic during the last two years.
The re-opening in October 2020 of Bangladesh’ Embassy in Romania was a very important moment in the efforts to re-launch bilateral relations.
In 2022, the Romanian side organised a three-month temporary consulate in Dhaka in order to facilitate the granting of working visas for the Bangladeshi citizens.
Romania and Bangladesh share a significant potential for economic cooperation, digitalization, cyber security, IT, technological transfer, agriculture, food industry and transport.
Romania granted 50 thousand euro through UNICEF for Bangladesh’s “2020 Joint Response Plan for Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis” for water and education infrastructure.