Stuck filmmaking equipment feared to sour Dhaka-Madrid ties
Asif Showkat Kallol || BusinessInsider
Flags of Bangladesh and Spain. Photo: Representational
A set of Spanish filmmaking equipment stuck at Dhaka’s airport for more than one-and-half-a-years could attract a director to make a movie!
Just Tk 1 crore worth of filmmaking equipment has appeared to sour the Bangladesh-Spain bilateral relationship, as manifested in a letter to the foreign ministry from Bangladesh’s embassy in Spain.
The commercial counsellor of Bangladesh in Madrid, Redwan Ahmed, sent the letter to the commerce secretary on September 22, saying that Spain is a very crucial market for Bangladesh’s exports, but this small issue (not sending Spain’s equipment) may affect Dhaka’s trade and investment relationship with Madrid.
The Spanish authorities kept on trying to get back their filmmaking equipment to Madrid, but Bangladesh officials showed nonchalance.
What actually happened?
Camaleon Cinema Services Limited, a Spanish film equipment supplier, rented euro 1 lakh worth of filmmaking equipment to Golden Bengal Production LLC, an American film producing organisation, which was supposed to shoot a movie titled “The Battle of Bengal” in Bangladesh.
Those film crafts reached Dhaka in March 2020. Jefferson, an assistant producer of the film, was supposed to receive the equipment at the Dhaka Customs house at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. But the Covid-19 pandemic spoiled everything and forced all to shelve the proposed movie making. The crew call for ‘The Battle of Bengal’ never came.
Accordingly, Jefferson left Dhaka without taking the equipment from the customs department into his possession.
Later, Carlos Fernadez Tejada, the proprietor of the Camaleon Cinema Services Limited, applied to the Dhaka Customs authority to get back his equipment. He also obtained approval of the Controller of Bangladesh Import and Export and appointed a local agent and a lawyer to expedite shipment of their valuable filmmaking machines from Bangladesh.
But his efforts went in vain, according to the memo of the Bangladesh Embassy in Spain. Carlos then contacted the Spain Embassy in Dhaka. After studying the stand-off, the embassy conveyed to him that there was an embargo in sending the equipment back to Spain. It is then the Spain embassy sent a letter to Bangladesh’s foreign ministry. Yet, the issue remained unsettled.
But neither Carlos nor the Spanish embassy could quit trying.
Spain’s industry and trade ministry gets involved
As the impasse remained unresolved for months, the Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism Ministry appeared on the scene. Veronica Samper Merino, the sub-director general of the ministry emailed a letter to the Spain Embassy in Dhaka on behalf of Carlos Fernadez Tejada, the proprietor of the Camaleon Cinema Services Limited, on July 23, 2021.
The email said the equipment remained stuck at the Dhaka airport despite following all due diligence to get those released. The Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism Ministry sought help from the Bangladesh embassy in Madrid. Accordingly, the Bangladesh’s ambassador in Spain sent a letter to the foreign ministry seeking the minister’s urgent assistance to resolve the stalemate.
As no development followed, Javier Alvarez Casanova, chief of Asia, Europe, Non-EU and Oceania regions of the Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism Ministry, extended a reminder to the Bangladesh’s embassy in Spain. Yet, there was no progress until the filing of the letter on September 22, according to Redwan Ahmed’s letter posted to the secretary of the commerce ministry.
Can the issue damage Bangladesh-Spain relationship?
Spain is Bangladesh’s fourth largest export destination in the world. Bangladesh exported $2.5 billion worth of goods, mostly apparels to the European country in fiscal 2020-21 that ended on June 30.
“Exports may rise in the current fiscal year as the coronavirus situation is improving. We are also trying to get Spain’s investments in Bangladesh,” Ahmed said in the letter.
“We need help from the Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism Ministry to boost our trade here and channel more investments from Spain to Bangladesh,” said the commercial counsellor.
Amid such a situation, Ahmed said Bangladesh needs to act fast to disentangle the impasse and to maintain a healthy diplomatic and economic relationship with Spain.