Argentina reopened its embassy in Dhaka on Monday, marking a new chapter in diplomatic relations that developed after Bangladesh’s huge support for the Argentine football team at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Amidst a huge crowd, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Monday inaugurated the new embassy of the South American country in Dhaka’s Banani area.
“It’s a momentous and joyous moment. It’s not just a diplomatic gesture. It’s an emotional moment. It is a reflection of the strong bond of friendship that exists between our peoples” said Shahriar Alam.
The Argentine foreign minister described the moment as a “stepping stone to make better and stronger relations between the two countries.”
Diplomats stationed in Dhaka also joined the function.
Argentina reopened its embassy here after 45 years. The Argentine embassy in Dhaka was closed in 1978 by the military junta that ruled the Latin American country at the time. Diplomatic operations, such as visas in order to travel, have since been handled by the embassy in neighbouring India.
Argentina says it is convenient to reopen the embassy in accordance with foreign policy guidelines based on “political, strategic and commercial” reasons.
Bangladeshi football fans’ support for Argentina made headlines during the Qatar World Cup, bringing closer not only fans of the sport from both countries but also their governments.
“We are happy to reopen the embassy in Bangladesh. The emotions for football reunited both countries. For this, I thank the people of Bangladesh,” Cafiero said following an inauguration at the new Argentine embassy.
“Our bilateral relations will be stronger. Both countries will work together to overcome global economic challenges. We will work together also for the development of football in Bangladesh.”
Cafiero is likely to meet prime minister Sheikh Hasina, and commerce minister Tipu Munshi.
Apart from the import of soybean oil and wheat from Argentina, the two sides are likely to discuss Bangladesh’s inclusion in South America’s powerful economic alliance Mercosur. Mercosur, or the Southern Common Market, is an economic and political bloc originally comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
The countries signed several agreements as part of Cafiero’s visit; on the day, Bangladesh and Argentina signed a visa exemption agreement for diplomatic and official passports, an agreement to facilitate football training and cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding between the foreign service academies in the field of diplomatic training.
“We can say that our love for Argentine football accelerated the opening of the Argentine embassy in Dhaka,” said Muhammad Mozammel Haque, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s South America wing.
“Under the football cooperation agreement, Argentina will provide training to Bangladeshi coaches and young footballers,” Haque said.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, a politician and senior vice president of the Bangladesh Football Federation, said that football cooperation with Argentina was a “very special moment”.
The renewal of ties will also help boost Bangladesh’s top export industry: textiles. Bangladesh is already a global major producer of sportswear and a supplier of international brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma.
“Very easily, our manufacturers will be able to export jerseys for the Argentine football team and fans as well,” Murshedy said. “The new Argentine mission in Bangladesh will increase our textile export potential to this market.
“Earlier, they didn’t have much idea about Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi football fan base for Argentina amazed them at the last FIFA World Cup,” he added. “We have been waiting for a long time for such an auspicious moment.”
Momen told the Argentine minister that Bangladesh significantly improved its infrastructure, and streamlined regulations and that the country’s strategic location, skilled workforce, and abundant natural resources make it an attractive destination for business and investment.
The country also is building 100 specialised economic zones to attract private investments, he said, inviting Argentina to consider investments here.