China, Bangladesh to enhance economic ties: official

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/11 21:53:39

Many sectors offer potential for bilateral cooperation

Locomotives built by CNR Tangshan Railway Vehicles Co for export to Bangladesh are seen on display at an industry event. File photo: CFP

Li Guangjun

Editor's Note:

Ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to Cambodia, Bangladesh and India from Thursday to Monday, Li Guangjun, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh, spoke to Global Times reporter Chen Qing-qing (GT) in Beijing on Monday, talking about the ongoing Chinese investment in Bangladesh and perspectives on the bilateral relationship.

GT: How do you see the current state of Chinese investment in Bangladesh?

Li: The volume of Chinese investment in Bangladesh reached $56.79 million in 2015, of which 65 percent went into textiles, according to the official data from Bangladesh's central bank. Meanwhile, Chinese companies also invested in other industries such as leather, chemical fertilizers, electricity, pharmaceuticals and so on.

Besides private companies, more and more State-owned enterprises have started to explore business opportunities here. And investors are entering industries such as electricity and manufacturing. Those sectors have full potential: for example, in the electricity sector, Chinese investment in plants that produce 1,320 megawatts of electricity has surpassed $400 million.

Also, establishing more industrial parks in Bangladesh will help Chinese companies enter the local market.

GT: While China-Bangladesh ties attract attention, do any challenges remain?

Li: Bangladesh is a country with a large population and a high density, and its abundant labor resources have become one of its advantages in attracting investment. China and Bangladesh are complementary in terms of economic development, and Bangladesh has become an important partner when China is shifting its labor-intensive sectors overseas and looking for more energy cooperation with other countries. The two countries have a strong intention to work together in infrastructure, telecommunications and textiles, which are all potential sectors.

However, as Bangladesh is less developed than most countries, it has limited natural resources and faces frequent natural disasters. The lack of infrastructure hinders its development. In addition, the Bangladesh government has to become efficient and it has to do more to ensure a safe environment for foreign investors.

GT: Do you think more and more Chinese firms are interested in investing in Bangladesh?

Li: Yes. There are several reasons for this rising enthusiasm. First, the political situation in Bangladesh has been stable in recent years, and the country recorded about 6 percent to 7 percent economic growth rates. Second, the labor cost in Bangladesh is relatively low, which is a favorable factor for Chinese firms in labor-intensive sectors. Third, the Bangladesh government has come up with favorable policies to improve the business environment here. And last but not least, the two countries have been encouraging business and trade delegation visits, which provides opportunities for Chinese investors to get to know Bangladesh better.

GT: What is the role that Bangladesh plays in the China-proposed "Belt and Road" (B&R) initiative?

Li: Bangladesh has a strategic geopolitical position by connecting China, India and countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is crucial for not only the B&R initiative but also the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor plan. In 2015, President Xi Jinping met with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New York, and they agreed to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

Xi said China regards Bangladesh as an important cooperation partner in the South Asia-Indian Ocean region and stands ready to maintain high-level exchanges with Dhaka and expand bilateral cooperation in such key areas as trade, production capacity, energy development and infrastructure construction.

Hasina said Bangladesh would strengthen ties with China in terms of trade, finance, infrastructure and cultural exchange. The country will also play an active role in building the BCIM corridor.

Bangladesh has been supportive toward the B&R initiative, and it is willing to push forward its own economic development by promoting regional cooperation. Projects under the B&R initiative have been established in Bangladesh, and we expect the country to play a bigger role in further enhancing the connection between China and the Indian subcontinent.

GT: To upgrade the strategic partnership between China and Bangladesh, what will the two countries do? And what is your perspective on that?

Li: Promoting trade and investment between the two countries serves as a basis for maintaining a stable relationship. We hope both sides will maintain a "Silk Road spirit," which promotes peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, and push forward projects. We are discussing many projects and have already made progress in those in the electricity and transportation sectors.

Posted in: Economy

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