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Sunday, February 25, 2018

China's 'One Belt, One Road' plan will benefit Bangladesh

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On the forty years of relationship with Bangla-desh and China, Bangla-desh has formally annou-nced to join China's 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR), which experts say will immensely benefit connectivity, trade and people-to-people contacts in the region.

In a rare gesture all major political parties, including opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP) have welcomes the OBOR plan of China, during the visit of China's President Xi Jinping in Dhaka in October last. The present bilateral trade between China and Bangladesh may exceed US$30 billion by 2021 and would further double, a Foreign Ministry official privy of the Bangladesh-China relations told the Asian Age on Wednesday.

China's economic growth has made it a strong economic force in driving global trade. As its trading partner, Bangladesh expects from China, principally, increasing amounts of Chinese direct investment, better access for Bangla-deshi products in China's market and China's continuing support in developing the infrastructure of the country, writes Nusrat Zahan is a visiting scholar at Fudan Development Institute in the Shanghai Daily.

Meanwhile Bangladesh has taken active participating in the OBOR and, as a part of the initiative, the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myan-mar) corridor is now in its final stage. Fortunately India is also in the BCIM initiative which is in line with the Chinese OBOR initiative. India has responsibility to engage its efforts in developing regional integration, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Myanmar along with China.

India, of course has another responsibility and  can play wider roles to access opportunities in the region by resolving the issues of mutual mistrust, said Bangladesh-China bilateral relations specialist Nusrat Zahan.Given the reality, it is now imperative for Bangladesh to build a secure relationship with India and China on the basis of mutual respect, trust and friendship.

Bangladesh should pay more attention to its Look East policy to activate the connectivity further and thus increase bilateral trade, said Zahan, an associate professor in international relations, Jahangirnagar University. Bangladesh and China believe in regional cooperation and have common interest in the corridor, this offers additional impetus, the expert said.

As a mandate of the Bangkok Agreement, China provides Bangladesh duty free access to a list of Bangladeshi products. While Chinese investors have interests in Bangladesh's garment industry due to the availability of cheap labor, the Chittagong and Mongla ports are also of great interests for China to develop connectivity for its Southern gateway.

China is one of the largest development partners of Bangladesh, with an expectation that the bilateral relations would develop cooperation, after President Xi's visited Bangladesh which was marked by Bangladesh press as the start of a "new era of friendship," the official of Foreign office said.

China is already providing project loans and development assistance and wishes to increase investment in the information and communication technology industry, river management, industrial zones, land reclamation and maritime cooperation.

China has offered to build mega infrastructure projects within the Belt and Road areas to increase trade and service, offering substantial prospects for Bangladesh.

This initiative meets Bangladesh's need for wider connectivity within the region. While Asia is currently experiencing increasing economic development centering on China, subjected to implementation of OBOR, and Zahan believes that Asia will become the center of gravity for the world economy.

Since China's OBOR initiative is compliment to Bangladesh's goals of connectivity and increased trade, Bangladesh now needs to make all efforts to ensure good governance and political stability so that it can achieve the aims and expectations of OBOR, which could have a great impact on the long term future of the economy of Bangladesh.


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