China will lend more to Bangladesh this year than in the previous year to help improve its infrastructure, the envoy of the Asian economic powerhouse said yesterday.
Zhang Zuo, the Chinese ambassador in Dhaka, said his country lent Bangladesh $500 million in 2017 as per the commitment of their President Xi Jinping in October 2016.
The diplomat disclosed that Bangladesh has received the highest amount of loan among the least developed countries under the Belt and Road Initiative of China.
“This year Bangladesh is likely to receive more loans from China than other countries in the world,” Zuo said.
He was addressing a discussion on “China-Bangladesh Communication, Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism for Industry Enterprises under Belt and Road Initiative” at Pan Pacific Sonargaon in Dhaka.
However, the envoy did not mention the amount his country will lend Bangladesh this year.
The Chinese embassy in Bangladesh and the industries ministry jointly organised the discussion mainly to highlight the future of investment, trade, development assistance and infrastructure development under the China's flagship BRI project.
A group of Chinese entrepreneurs who have investments here for many years in different sectors like garment, IT and infrastructure have attended the discussion. Senior officials of the industries ministry represented Bangladesh at the programme.
Regarding Chinese investments in Bangladesh, Zuo said so far more than 200 small and medium enterprises from China have invested more than $1 billion and created employment for 1.10 lakh people.
“Now negotiation is going on to materialise an investment of $3 billion in the steel sector of Bangladesh,” he said.
The envoy also talked about bilateral trade between the two Asian nations as his country has already become Bangladesh's largest trading partner.
He said bilateral trade between the two countries reached $9.35 billion in the first six months till June of the current year, up 17.6 percent from the same period a year ago.
Last year, the trade between the two countries was $16 billion, up 5.8 percent from a year before.
He said, after the Chinese president put forward the BRI in 2013, some 103 countries and international organisations have signed cooperation agreements with China.
“A brighter prospect of the BRI is being carved out with the interconnected and simultaneous development of multiple 'roads of dreams', including the Blue Economy Corridor, the Sky Silk Road and the Digital Silk Road,” the envoy said.
So far, the value of engineering contracts signed between Bangladesh and Chinese companies reached $10.4 billion, second in South Asia.
He said Chinese companies are implementing some mega projects in Bangladesh like Padma Bridge Railway Link at a cost of $3 billion. Out of the total cost of the project, China is giving $2.67 billion as loan to Bangladesh.
Shah Md Aminul Huq, chairman of Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation, and Md Safiqul Islam, managing director of SME Foundation, presented business and investment opportunities in Bangladesh before Chinese investors.