China to give $1b in project funds
China plans to provide over $1 billion for funding three projects in Bangladesh as Dhaka and Beijing are negotiating the terms of the loan.
The projects are: Shahjalal Fertiliser Plant, Digital Telephone Project, introduction of 3G and expansion of 2.5G network, and Pagla Water Treatment Plant.
“It's my view that these projects coincide with policy goal of the government to improve agriculture production, living environment of the people and to build up digital Bangladesh in 2021,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xianyi said.
Speaking to the news agency on the 12th meeting of the Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation in Beijing, Xianyi said Bangladesh came up with other projects concerning development of infrastructure -- road, bridge and railway.
At the meeting, China agreed to extend the term of the unutilised 50 million yuan ($ 7.35 million) interest-free loan for another five years.
The ambassador said China agreed to conduct feasibility study on the seventh friendship bridge on Arial Kha River at Kazirtek in Madaripur. A team from Beijing will come here this year for an appraisal of the project. The Chinese government will build it as a grant to Bangladesh if it is feasible.
The ambassador added both sides at the meeting agreed on further expansion of trade and economic cooperation and accelerating regional cooperation proceedings.
On bilateral trade, the two sides expressed satisfaction over the expansion of the trade volume from $2.48 billion in 2005 to $4.70 billion in 2008.
Asked about a huge trade imbalance, the envoy said China would continue to take constructive measures to expand imports from Bangladesh. China gave preferential treatment to 1,717 items of Bangladesh and special preferential to 162 items under the Framework of the Asia-pacific Trade Agreement. Out of the 162, 84 items enjoy zero taxation.
Besides, he said, Beijing imports 10 percent of total production of jute and jute products from Bangladesh. “We want to import as much as we can but items must be compatible in quality and price,” he added.
At the meeting, Bangladesh sought better access to Chinese market, which was welcomed by the Chinese side.
On economic cooperation, the Ambassador noted that China will write off unpaid debts of interest on loan provided to Bangladesh up to the end of 2008. This is for the first time China exempts debt stemming from interest as a gesture of friendship in the wake of economic recession.
On investment, the ambassador said some $30 million was invested in Bangladesh in 2008, three times higher than the previous year's.