Kick-starting a new strategic and defence partnership with Bangladesh

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Australia’s 2020 defence strategic revise identifies the northeast Indian Sea as important area within our immediate region, but it’s also where our protection relationships are the least developed. A fresh report published by the National Reliability College examines Australia’s passions for the reason that region and alternatives for enhanced reliability relations with Bangladesh.

For at least ten years, Australia has rightly concentrated on India as its primary South Asian partner, nonetheless it is now period to broaden that technique to include different countries in that region. Enhanced security, political and economic relations with Bangladesh ought to be part of this. Despite being one of the first countries to discover an unbiased Bangladesh, Australia hasn't properly developed the partnership.

Improved upon connections with Bangladesh would also be part of a growing web of relationships with existing and emerging middle powers across the Indo-Pacific. These can dietary supplement relationships with important powers and, potentially, likewise help mitigate a few of the impacts of major ability competition.

Australia has significant strategic equities found in Bangladesh, reflecting monetary opportunities and probable threats emanating from the northeast Indian Sea.

Bangladesh is among the big financial success stories in Asia. In the last several decades, Bangladesh is continuing to grow from one of the poorest countries on the globe to a middle-income region. In the years prior to the Covid-19 crisis, its economic growth averaged around 7% to 8% per annum. It could well become among Asia’s new financial ‘tigers’ and an integral trading spouse for Australia.

It’s in our passions to support a well balanced and independent Bangladesh since it pursues development even though balancing exterior pressures. Bangladesh is situated at the fulcrum of the Bay of Bengal, between India and China, and is the subject matter of growing strategic competition between them. New threats by the Chinese ambassador if Bangladesh dared to develop relations with the Quad is going to be shrugged off by Dhaka. In fact, such bullying may only further highlight the value for Dhaka of building partnerships with countries like Australia and Japan that may add further ballast to Bangladesh’s regional relationships.

Australia also offers other security passions in the region, including in managing hazards of climate change, people and medication smuggling and violent extremism, which could have a substantial impact on Australia.

The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya persons from Myanmar has led to a lot more than 1 million refugees in Bangladeshi camps, creating risks from unregulated population activities and violent extremism.

Climate switch, including sea-level go up and severe weather events, could also have a significant effect on Bangladesh in returning years, potentially triggering large-scale population motions and regional instability.

Prolonged civil unrest in Myanmar also makes challenges of a surge in medicine smuggling or refugee motions. Myanmar is already Australia’s largest way to obtain opium and now methamphetamines, and a breakdown to be able could flood those drugs onto the Australian industry.

Australia may increasingly want Bangladesh as a good regional partner to greatly help address these threats. But our reliability relationship is quite thin. Official military visits are uncommon and there is no resident defence representative. But Bangladesh has flagged its interest in developing closer protection relations as part of a more comprehensive romance with Australia.

Much can be achieved to kick-begin engagement at minimal price. Australia can start by focusing on low-hanging fruit, construction relationships between the defence forces, construction Bangladesh’s maritime security capacities in picked areas and seeking prospects for collaborative regional engagement.

Bangladesh includes a large, professional and well-funded military. Although it includes a democratic civilian-led federal government, the armed forces play a prominent function in public areas affairs. Good relationships over the Bangladeshi military are not only essential for defence cooperation, but are also a very important component in broader political engagement.

Current arrangements for servicing the relationship through Australia’s defence adviser on Colombo are definately not optimal. Australia requires a defence representative on the floor to have credibility, completely build relationships the Bangladeshi armed service and explore further opportunities. This should include prospects as a potential distributor in niche defence technology or surplus devices in light of Bangladesh’s military modernisation course. A resident defence adviser would as well improve Australia’s visibility of security advancements in the region.

Australia has long used army education to build up relationships with regional partners. We should provide prospects (including on a paid basis) for senior Bangladeshi officers at the Australian Battle College, the National Security School or the Australian National Center for Ocean Methods and Security. Networks may be designed through targeted exchanges of employees, for example, between your Bangladeshi and Australian peacekeeping training centres.

A port visit by one or more Australian naval ships could possibly be undertaken within another Indo-Pacific Endeavour activity in the northeast Indian Sea.

Australia should undertake targeted capability-building actions with Bangladesh on selected maritime secureness issues where Australia features direct passions. These should give attention to participating in to Australia’s strengths in knowledge and knowledge, in areas such as maritime domain consciousness, search and rescue, and interface security, where Australia can offer valuable expertise and training.

Bangladesh’s assumption of couch of the Indian Sea Rim Association in 2021 has an opportunity to collaborate in regional initiatives on maritime safety and security, the blue economy and environmental reliability. BIMSTEC, the regional political grouping in the northeast Indian Sea, could also be a useful vehicle to demonstrate Australia’s renewed fascination in the region.

India is unquestionably Australia’s most important partner found in South Asia and has been among Australia’s key foreign insurance policy focuses for a few years. But India’s small neighbours also have important roles to perform as we consider options and risks in your community. An improved romantic relationship with Bangladesh provides priceless heft to regional interactions and extra options for Australia.

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