The envoy came up with the remarks at a seminar on “Bangladesh-China Relationship: Opportunities and Challenges,” organised by Bangladesh Enterprises Institute (BEI) in Dhaka yesterday.
The seminar was aimed at discussing the bilateral relationship of the two countries ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s likely visit in mid-October.
International Affairs Adviser to PM Gowher Rizvi, eminent economist Prof Rehman Sobhan, former ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad and BEI President Farooq Sobhan were also present at the seminar.
“Bangladesh’s garment exports to China market rose by 30% year-on-year while investment possibilities of China are also high in Bangladesh,” said Ma Mingqiang.
Commenting on the investment potentialities, he said: “China will be a major investor. I do believe it will be the number one investor in Bangladesh.”
In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh earned $341bn exporting clothing products to China while Bangladesh’s exports to China stood at $808m against import of $9.64bn.
The Chinese president’s upcoming visit indicates rising extent of cooperation and tangible benefits for the two peoples, said Jinping adding that the relationship of the two countries is “in such a level that had never been better and closer in terms of economical, political and technical.”
“This is a relationship that is well based on the cooperation and mutual benefits.”
Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BICM) Economic Corridor “is very important for the two countries and it will bring inclusiveness in the bilateral relationship.” ambassador said.
“Now we are working hard on how we can give more benefits to people,” he added.
Farooq Sobhan, president of Bangladesh Enterprises Institute, said the Chinese president’s upcoming visit will focus on infrastructural development projects.
He said in seven projects of power and energy, China may invest $7.7bn while it will invest about $6.6bn in roads and bridges projects.
Farooq Sobhan said: “Bangladesh may see $30bn investment in the coming years. In next two years, we will see drastic transformation in infrastructure.”
“And the objectives of the Chinese investment is to enhance capacity and export to the world from Bangladesh,” he said.
“But there are challenges. One of the big challenges is the rise of extremist forces which the whole region is facing. So how to cope with terrorism and how to counter the violent extremism is now our top agenda. It is not only in Asia but across the world also.”
He emphasised the need to create better life for the people and create possibilities to transform both economies through the joint development initiatives for infrastructures.
“So I believe this is a big challenge and there are opportunities to address them collectively,” BEI president said.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said China has emerged as a big source of import but the trade gap is a major concern.
He said: “There are about $8bn trade gap, which needs to be reduced.”
“What we want from China are project financing and substantive investment in upgrading existing industries including ICT, relocation of industries, deep sea fishing,” said Shahriar Alam also calling for “market access and brand equity.”