Bangladesh joined the UN on 17 September 1974; it belongs to ESCAP and all the nonregional specialized agencies. A member of the Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Nations, and G-77, Bangladesh participates in the nonaligned movement and in international Muslim organizations and conferences. The nation is a signatory to the Law of the Sea and a member of the WTO. In 1985, Bangladesh became one of seven constituent members of the SAARC, under which it is a signatory to the South Asia Preferential Trade Agreement. In 1997, Bangladesh signed an agreement with India on sharing water from the Ganges River.
Soon after independence, Bangladesh signed a friendship treaty with India, but the new leaders after the 1975 coup instituted a policy of equal cooperation with other neighboring countries. Pakistan recognized Bangladesh in February 1974, and the two have developed close relations, their past differences notwithstanding. Generally, Bangladesh follows a nonaligned foreign policy and in recent years has sought closer relations with other Islamic states, ASEAN, and China. Bangladesh also continues a healthy relationship with the United States, with which it has bilateral trade agreements. In 1995, the country's trade exporters association signed an agreement with the United Nations Children's Fund and the International Labour Organization (ILO) under which industry's rampant use of child labor would be eliminated.
In December 2002, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia travelled to China. One topic that was discussed during her visit was the idea of a "growth quadrangle" to promote accelerated economic exchanges between the Yunnan province of China, Myanmar, India's Northeast, and Bangladesh. The "Kunming Initiative" was the source of this idea, an outgrowth of ASEAN.