Trade relationships are never mere transactions
Even after all this time, Myanmar shows no signs of taking the blame for the Rohingya crisis, holding the guilty parties within its own government accountable, or ensuring safe repatriation of the Rohingya into Rakhine state in any credible way.
This is the time for Bangladesh, along with the powerful nations of the world, to stop playing ball with Myanmar. Imposing sanctions -- cutting off trade -- is an important part of the process of holding Myanmar accountable for crimes against humanity.
It is disheartening to hear, then, that the Bangladesh government is about to import 100,000 tons of rice from Myanmar. While it is understandable that this has been a difficult year, and that we need to ensure supplies to feed our large population, it is hard to believe that we have no recourse other than Myanmar of all countries. Certainly, there are other ways to ensure enough rice for the nation.
For example, already we are purchasing 150,000 tons of rice from India’s state-run NAFED in a government-to government deal. If necessary, that option could be expanded further. Objectively speaking, Bangladesh already produces a massive quantity of rice every year. In fact, we are the third largest rice producer in the world, with 35 millions tons in production annually. It hardly makes sense, then, even considering various economic crises, that we would be so desperate for rice as to justify turning to Myanmar of all countries.
This is a slippery slope, and an unwise move that could make us lose our moral advantage in the Rohingya crisis. Trade relationships are never mere transactions, but also signs of friendship and good diplomacy between nations. Myanmar has a long way to go before earning Bangladesh’s, or the world’s, trust.