China-Bangladesh firms ink US$13.6b deals

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

BANGLADESHI and Chi­nese firms signed US$13.6 bil­lion in trade and in­vest­ment deals on the sidelines of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s brief tour to the South Asian na­tion last week.

The deals are in ad­di­tion to $20 bil­lion in loan agree­ments that the two gov­ern­ments signed on Oc­to­ber 14, in a mark of Bei­jing’s grow­ing ties with Dhaka, which is a very close ally of re­gional power In­dia.

“These trade and in­vest­ment deals are be­tween Chi­nese com­pa­nies in­clud­ing some of their state firms and the Bangladesh pri­vate sec­tor. They are worth $13.6 bil­lion,” Ab­dul Matlub Ah­mad, head of the Fed­er­a­tion of Bangladesh Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try (FBCCI), told AFP.

Mr Ah­mad said the deals re­flect Dhaka’s im­prov­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion after Bangladesh launched a crack­down on Is­lamist ex­trem­ists fol­low­ing an at­tack on a restau­rant in the cap­i­tal in which sus­pected mil­i­tants killed 22, mostly for­eign hostages.

“The agree­ments send a pos­i­tive sig­nal to the rest of the world that Bangladesh is a safe haven as an in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion. The Chi­nese in­vestors are sat­is­fied with the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion here,” he added.

The deals were signed after the FBCCI, Bangladesh’s top trade and busi­ness lob­by­ist group, and the China Coun­cil for Pro­mo­tion of In­ter­na­tional Trade (CCPIT) or­gan­ised a two-day sem­i­nar be­tween busi­ness of­fi­cials of both na­tions on the sidelines of Mr Xi’s tour.

“We will in­vest in in­vest­ment parks. There are many en­trepreneurs in our del­e­ga­tion who want to in­vest in this coun­try,” CCPIT vice chair Chen Zhou said.

Chi­nese in­vestors were con­sid­er­ing in­vest­ing in in­fras­truc­tural devel­op­ment, leather, ready­made gar­ments, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, au­to­mo­bile and other sec­tors.

Bangladesh has al­ready agreed to set up an in­dus­trial park ex­clu­sively for Chi­nese in­vestors near the strate­gic port of Chit­tagong hop­ing it will at­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers seek­ing cheaper labour than they can find at home.

As a mark of their deep­en­ing eco­nomic ties, the two na­tions also signed an agree­ment to con­duct a fea­si­bil­ity study on a China-Bangladesh free trade agree­ment.

Dhaka had pre­vi­ously been re­luc­tant to sign a bi­lat­eral FTA with China and in­stead sought uni­lat­eral duty-free and quota-free ac­cess for its prod­ucts in the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Trade be­tween the two na­tions is cur­rently heav­ily skewed in China’s favour with Bangladesh ex­port­ing goods worth only about $808 mil­lion last year while its im­ports from China stood at $9.64 bil­lion.

Im­pov­er­ished Bangladesh needs bil­lions of dol­lars of in­vest­ment in its trans­port in­fra­struc­ture and en­ergy pro­duc­tion to boost its flag­ging eco­nomic for­tunes and cre­ate jobs for its 160 mil­lion peo­ple. –

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