Bangladesh, China should work together for a better future
China is ready to synergise its 13th Five-Year Plan with Bangladesh's Seventh Five-Year Plan with the view to leveraging the respective comparative advantages of the two countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during his Bangladesh visit in October 2016.
The cooperation was aimed at increasing economic exchanges and trade, building key projects in areas such as infrastructure, production capacity, energy, electricity, transportation, information, telecom and agriculture, and strengthening practical cooperation under the BCIM Economic Corridor (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar).
Following this guidance, thanks to joint efforts of our two countries and business communities, we have produced 'golden fruits' in practical cooperation in the field of economic and trade.
China now is the biggest trading partner of Bangladesh; however, China does not seek trade surpluses as its trading goal. In future, China will import more competitive goods from Bangladesh. The signing of a free trade agreement between China and Bangladesh will provide Bangladesh with more preferential goods, services and investments access to China.
I sincerely hope both sides would speed up the joint study on China-Bangladesh FTA and start formal negotiation as soon as possible.
Until October last year, China's investment in Bangladesh increased 54.1 percent from a year earlier.
Major investment projects such as 1320 MW Payra thermal power plant, Chittagong Chinese economic and industrial park have made positive progress.
With more and more investors coming to Bangladesh for expanding businesses, Chinese investment may dramatically increase in the near future.
In addition, both sides have made new progress in cooperation in major infrastructure projects.
Bangladesh is the second largest project contract market for China in South Asia.
Chinese companies' engineering, procurement and construction contract volume in the first 10 months of 2017 increased 24.1 percent year-on-year to $6.4 billion.
As a developing country, China committed to providing assistance to Bangladesh within its capacity under the framework of South-South cooperation.
In 2017, significant advances have been made in the major China-aid projects such as the China-Bangladesh Friendship Exhibition Centre, the eighth China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge, the Project of Planning the Highway Transportation Network of Bangladesh and the Project of Flood Management in Bangladesh.
We have identified several government-to-government infrastructure projects that are making important progress such as the construction of multi-lane tunnel under the river Karnaphuli, installation of single point mooring with double pipeline project, Dahserkandi Sewerage Treatment Plant, procurement of six vessels, IV Tier National Data Centre.
In addition, Chinese enterprises are exploring cooperation on several projects in power, ICT, river management, infrastructure and other areas on the basis of equality and mutual benefit through investment or other effective ways.
The Belt and Road Initiative proposed a new platform for international cooperation in the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and create new drivers for our common development.
As announced on the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in May 2017, China will host the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai in November 2018.
This is a major initiative announced by China to promote trade liberalisation and open up its market to its trading partners over the world.
It is estimated that 150,000 professional buyers will come to attend the CIIE. Bangladeshi enterprises are more than welcome to attend the CIIE and share the benefits brought about by China's economic growth.
On the sidelines of the CIIE, China will also host the Hongqiao International Forum on Trade, and Bangladesh's active participation is most welcome.
We have an ancient adage in China that 'If we carve with perseverance, even metals and stones are able to be shaped well'.
I do believe that far-sighted and ambitious entrepreneurs of China and Bangladesh will make full use of these opportunities and get on board the express train of China and Bangladesh development and share benefits.
With our joint efforts, I am convinced that we will uncover new and brilliant chapters for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, instil a greater sense of fulfilment and satisfaction among our two nations.
The writer is the economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese embassy in Bangladesh.