Bangladesh-Argentina Diplomatic Relations and Future Prospects: A Football-Fueled Partnership

The reopening of the Argentine embassy in Dhaka on February 27, 2023, marks a significant milestone in the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Argentina. The catalyst for this historic event was the fervent support of Bangladeshi football enthusiasts for the Argentine national team during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Beyond the football frenzy, the re-establishment of the embassy signifies a deepening commitment to political, economic, and cultural cooperation between the two nations.

Country Background:

Argentina, known as “the land of the six continents,” is a vast independent state situated predominantly in the southern part of South America. It ranks as the 8th largest country globally, covering an expansive area of 2,780,400 km², making it the second-largest country in South America after Brazil. To put its size in perspective, Argentina is over five times larger than France and about four times the size of Texas.

Argentina Foreign Minister Andres Cafiero and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

The landscape of Argentina is characterized by the imposing Andean mountains in the west, bordered by the South Atlantic Ocean to the southeast and south. It shares land borders with Chile to the west and south, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, and Uruguay to the east. Additionally, Argentina has maritime borders with the Falkland Islands, which are a United Kingdom Overseas Territory.

With a population of approximately 46 million people as per the 2022 census, Argentina’s capital and largest city is Buenos Aires. The official language is Spanish, although communities speaking English, Italian, German, and French can be found across the country.

The name “Argentina” originates from the Latin word “argentum,” meaning silver, reflecting the early Spanish explorers’ misconception about the region’s abundance of silver.

Geographically, Argentina is diverse, encompassing seven main regions: the Argentine Northwest, the Chaco Region (Gran Chaco), the Sierras Pampeanas mountain chain, the subtropical Mesopotamia (Littoral), Cuyo in the central-west, the fertile alluvial plain known as the Pampas, and the sparsely populated south, known as Patagonia. These regions offer a range of climatic zones, from tropical and subtropical in the north to temperate in the center and subpolar in the extreme south.

Due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere, Argentina experiences summer from December to February.

Argentine Ambassador H.E. Marcelo Carlos CESA presents his credentials to President H.E. Shahabuddin at Bangabhaban on Wednesday, December 6, 2023. Photo: PID

Political System of Argentina

Argentina is a federal presidential representative democratic republic with a multi-party system and an independent judicial system. The country’s constitution provides for the usual three powers of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial.

The President of Argentina serves as both the head of state and the head of government. The president is elected to a four-year term and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.

Legislative power is vested in both the executive branch (e.g., necessity and urgency decree by the president) and the bicameral National Congress (Spanish: Congreso de la Nación Argentina), which consists of the Senate, presided by the vice-president, and the Chamber of Deputies.

The judicial branch is composed of the Supreme Court and other federal and provincial courts.

Argentina is famous for:

Football

Soccer is deeply rooted in the Argentine culture. The country is considered a soccer nation because of its history and success in the sport, with numerous legendary players and a passionate fan base that makes the sport a national obsession.

The game has long been an integral part of Argentine culture. The country has produced world-class players and won several international titles, including three FIFA World Cups: in 1978, 1986, and 2022.

Bilateral Historical Ties:

Beyond the recent football-inspired developments, Bangladesh and Argentina share a history of diplomatic, commercial, and cultural exchange dating back to before Bangladesh’s independence. Notable figures like Rabindranath Tagore and Argentine author Victoria Ocampo laid the foundation for the enduring bond between the two nations. Argentina was one of the first Latin American countries to recognize Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, and formal diplomatic ties were established in 1972.

Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, a World Heritage Site in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Photo: Philipp Schinz

Embassy Closure and Reopening:

Despite a promising start in 1973 with the establishment of Argentina’s embassy in Dhaka, the political turmoil in Argentina led to the closure of the embassy in 1978. For years, Bangladeshis had to seek Argentine visas through the embassy in New Delhi, India. The recent reopening of the embassy is a strategic move by Argentina to capitalize on Bangladesh’s growing economic and political significance.

Football Enthusiasm and People-to-People Engagement:

The passionate support of Bangladeshi football fans for the Argentine national team played a pivotal role in rekindling diplomatic ties. The excitement reached unprecedented levels during the FIFA World Cup, with widespread celebrations, flag displays, and public screenings of matches. The global attention garnered by Bangladesh’s support for Argentina through social media and international news outlets further solidified the bond between the two nations.

Lionel Messi in soccer heaven. Argentina won the 2022 World Cup in Lusail, Qatar, by beating France 3-3 (4-2 on penalties). Photo: David Ramos/FIFA

Trade and Investment Prospects:

With the embassy’s reopening, both nations are poised to strengthen economic ties. Bangladesh, a major exporter of textiles, can benefit from Argentina’s position as a significant producer of wheat, soybeans, and corn. The bilateral trade volume reached US$765 million in 2022, with  growth potential. Argentina, in turn, can explore opportunities in Bangladesh’s thriving sportswear, pharmaceuticals, jute, leather, and tourism sectors.

Future Cooperation and Prospects:

The establishment of the embassy opens avenues for enhanced economic and investment cooperation. Bangladesh’s infrastructure improvements and the creation of specialized economic zones make it an attractive destination for foreign investment. Argentina’s support may also help Bangladesh in pursuing its inclusion in MERCOSUR, South America’s largest free market bloc.

Beyond economic ties, the strengthened relationship holds promises for football cooperation. Argentina has committed to providing training and technical support to Bangladeshi coaches and young footballers, aiming to elevate the standard of football in Bangladesh.

The road to El Chaltén, a village within Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina’s Santa Cruz province. Los Glaciares National Park, the largest protected area in Argentina, is embedded into the remote mountain landscape of the Patagonian Andes, aka the Austral Andes. Photo: Alex Proimos

Conclusion:

The reopening of the Argentine embassy in Dhaka symbolizes a unique blend of people-to-people engagement and diplomatic initiatives. As both nations move forward, there is a great potential for increased trade, investment, and cultural exchange. The synergy between football passion and diplomatic relations sets the stage for a prosperous and enduring partnership between Bangladesh and Argentina. The journey from World Cup enthusiasm to embassy reopening is not just a tale of two nations but a testament to the transformative power of shared passions in international relations.

Written by-

AKM Sayedad Hossain
Associate Editor, Diplomats World Publicatin

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