China launched its massive connectivity Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 and Bangladesh formally joined it in 2016. Since then both the countries are engaged in developing projects to realise the initiative. “We have a couple of projects which were negotiated before 2016, but will be implemented under BRI,” said an official.
Citing an example, he said Karnaphuli tunnel was agreed in 2014 when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited China and now it will be implemented as BRI connectivity project.
Similarly, exclusive economic zone for Chinese investors in Chittagong is another example which was negotiated earlier but goods produced in the zone can be shipped through the Karnaphuli tunnel to Chittagong port or anywhere in the country, he added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping launched its mega vision of BRI in Kazakhstan in 2013. It also set up an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with $1 trillion capital to fund BRI projects.
¨Bangladesh is one of the founding members of AIIB¨
China is also helping Bangladesh in building Padma bridge and it will immensely increase connectivity in the country and will ultimately help the BRI cause, the official said. He said. BRI is not only about physical connectivity and it can also be seen in other areas also.
Dhaka Stock Exchange has received a huge Investment from China and through this, it will transfer technology and knowledge to boost the capital market in the country, he said. “If we have a stock market with a solid foundation, Chinese investors can also be attracted to it and raise money or do portfolio business here,” he added.
China is the biggest trading partner of Bangladesh with a trade of over $10 billion. The trade figure is heavily tilted towards China as Bangladesh imports a huge amount of raw material, machinery and consumer goods from the East Asian country.