Investment and infrastructural development will be the centre of discussions between Bangladesh and China during the Chinese president’s visit, said Golam Dastagir Gazi, president of Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In an interview with the Dhaka Tribune yesterday, he said implementation of the proposed Silk Road project would boost regional connectivity and reduce trade cost. Xi Jinping is due to arrive in Dhaka today.
What sectors in Bangladesh will be considered for Chinese investment – both government and private?
Industrialisation in Bangladesh is still at its initial stage. But investment opportunities here are ample. We need balanced investment in different fields including infrastructures like deep seaport, energy and garment backward linkage industry. Investment in technology sector can also be considered, though this might take time to create a ground in the sector.
What are the challenges?
Ensuring good infrastructures, adequate power and energy supplies as well as removing non-tariff barriers are the key issues while seeking investment from other countries. Bangladesh government has taken some initiatives to attract FDI from China. It has offered an exclusive economic zone for the Chinese investors. Since lots of investment have already been in power sector, our generation of electricity will go high.
Further, if we want to take relations with China to a new height, a favourable business environment will have to be created. Then we can see the rise of private investment here.
Do you see any impact of China’s big investment plan in and president’s visit to Bangladesh on regional relations?
The Bangladesh government seeks to keep good relations with regional powers – both India and China while making efforts for the development of the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is following that policy. We don’t think any animosity will arise with a friendly neighbour like India due to such visit and investment plan from China. Our doors are open for all who come up with investment offers to our country.
How can Bangladesh reduce huge trade gap with China?
China is offering us duty-free market access. But we cannot use the opportunity due to lack of exportable products. That is why Bangladeshi manufacturers and the government as well will have to concentrate on diversification of products. Focus should be given on manufacturing those products for which China depends on imports.
Final question, what do you expect from the Chinese president’s visit?
As the leader of the BCCCI, I am very much optimistic about the visit. I hope improvement of bilateral ties with China after this type of high-profile visit will help us enormously achieve our development goals. I urge the Chinese government to come up with low-cost funds and grants to take bilateral trade relations to a new height.