Bangladesh is set to get around US$ 4.5 billion Chinese investment in two designated special economic zones in Chittagong and Dhaka, with its focus on Bangladesh's needs and the global market.
"Firstly, we need to meet the needs of Bangladesh and secondly the need of the global market," Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Ma Mingqiang told UNB in an interview at his office on Monday.
Basically, the Chinese envoy said, they are working on two industrial parks-one in south Chittagong on 774 acres of land and another in south Dhaka that will attract US$ 2-2.5 billion Chinese investment.
The second one will be in collaboration with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) with less than 500 acres of land which will create 200,000-250,000 new jobs in Bangladesh, said the diplomat.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has already approved the proposed Economic and Industrial zone exclusively for Chinese investors in Chittagong.
Ambassador Ma, however, thinks only two industrial parks may not be enough as Bangladesh needs many more many parks to make the best use of advantage. "All the Chinese investors are very interested to get place inside the special economic zone. They're competing with each other."
The diplomat said there should be 'marriage of advantages' in the bilateral cooperation to make it a win-win one.
Solution to Trade Gap: On minimising the existing trade gap, Ambassador Ma said at this moment the trade gap cannot be addressed solely or single handedly by trading because Bangladesh is not producing that much products. "At this moment, it can't be solved simply by trading. However, trading is, of course, primary method to address the issue in the long term."
He said both China and Bangladesh need to look for some other approaches like encouraging more Chinese investment to come to Bangladesh that will help reduce the gap.
The Chinese diplomat laid emphasis on the idea of re-export from Bangladesh to China and the global market.
Not only readymade garment, Bangladesh can also export fresh fruits like mangoes, seafood, huge marine and agro products, he said adding that China is a huge market and Bangladesh can explore it eyeing newer areas.
"You need to further upgrade your industries. China is willing to transfer technology and will also work in Bangladesh's jute industry to produce finest jute clothes. It is happening in China. We can help Bangladesh and ready to transfer technology," he said.
On granting more duty-free access for Bangladeshi products to the Chinese market, the envoy said China is looking into it but it is not an easy task as China needs to look at other countries as well to do that.
"China is working on it. We want to see more Bangladeshi products in China. It'll also benefit our people and give them an option to buy quality products with affordable price," said the Chinese diplomat.
Asked about the China's willingness on building deep seaport in Bangladesh, Ambassador Ma said he does not have any update on the issue but mentioned that China is interested in all projects that Bangladesh needs truly.
"China will support any endeavour of the Bangladesh government for its development. China will help within its capacity as much as possible to enhance the living standard of brotherly people of Bangladesh," he added.
The envoy said they have seven friendship bridges in Bangladesh and Bangladesh will have eight one. "We'll do more, we'll not stop," he said adding that one more exhibition centre to be built with Chinese support.
10pc GDP Growth Reachable
Appreciating Bangladesh's stable economic growth over the last few years, the Chinese envoy said he will not be surprised at all if Bangladesh economy is developed by 10pc or more than 10 pc GDP growth.
"You're already on right track. With more FDI and cooperating with other countries you can catch up with the countries ahead of you. So, to achieve 10 pc growth is almost in your hand, it is reachable. It's really reachable. You have all that potential," he said.
He said Bangladesh is the most competitive in the labour cost and Bangladesh is in the centre of three big economies - India, Asean and Northeast Asia. "You have the geo-proximity."
Looking back, the Ambassador said Bangladesh did 'extremely well' in implementing MDGs. "I'm fully confident that Bangladesh will also succeed in SDGs as well. Bangladesh is in a better position to successfully implement the SDGs (sustainable development goals)."
BD to benefit from South-South Fund: The Chinese Ambassador referred to the Chinese President Xi Jinping's announcement of US$ 2 billion fund to support South-South cooperation in addition to launching the "Six 100s" initiative to help the developing countries in poverty reduction, agriculture, trade, environment, health and education.
China will set up the fund with an initial contribution of US$ 2 billion to support South-South-South cooperation and assist the developing countries in implementing their post-2015 development agenda.
South-South Cooperation is the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries, also known as countries of the global South.
Xi also announced US$ 3 billion fund to help the developing countries combat climate change. China will also do its best to raise its investment in the least developed countries (LDCs) to USD 12 billion by 2030.
Responding to a question in this regard, the Chinese Ambassador said, "I think Bangladesh is part of these platforms. We need to make the best use of these platforms and these mechanisms and new opportunities to serve the interest of two countries."
He also said Chinese cooperation is not limited to Bangladesh-China only. "We're open and inclusive. We can also look for possibilities and opportunities in a tripartite manner or with many countries together. We're also willing to work with other countries." ?UNB