French President Emmanuel Macron has witnessed the signature of a deal to facilitate loans to Bangladesh aimed at infrastructure development, as well as a letter of intent to provide the South Asian country with an earth observation satellite system.

This came during Macron’s two-day visit to Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, on Monday where he met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to bolster bilateral relations between the two countries.

Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Division signed the agreement with the French Development Agency.

A letter of intent was also signed to provide Bangladesh with an earth observation satellite system through cooperation between Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited, or BSCL, and Airbus Defense and Space SAS, France.

“The satellite that we will buy will travel through the orbit around 350 miles above the earth. This will be used mainly to observe the status of our crops and the sea. Currently, we don’t have any monitoring capabilities across the vast sea,” state-run Bangladesh Satellite Company Ltd. Chairman Shahjahan Mahmud was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

Bangladesh bought its first geostationary communications and broadcasting satellite, named Bangabandhu Satellite-1 and launched in 2018, from France, where it was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space.

Bangladeshi media positively reported his visit, with many seeing it as a step to bring in investments from France in sectors where the United States, China and India are heavily engaged.

Some even said the visit may have a political and strategic significance ahead of Bangladesh’s next general election, expected in early January.

Humanitarian efforts

France has also praised Bangladesh’s “leading contribution” to the UN peacekeeping missions and peacebuilding processes, particularly in Africa, as well as the country’s humanitarian efforts, providing shelter and support to the forcibly displaced Rohingya from Myanmar over the years, the statement said.

Both countries reiterated their commitment to the voluntary and safe repatriation of Rohingya to their ancestral homeland.

France also announced an additional contribution of 1M euros to the World Food Program’s activities in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh hosts more than 1 million Rohingya from Myanmar.


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