The Delta Plan 2100
Innovation, economic diplomacy and delta fund
Bangladesh is a growing nation having geopolitical importance--located on the 'bank of the Bay of Bengal' and right on the Indian Ocean. The coastal zones are potential areas but there are many challenges. But we have natural disasters--devastating cyclones, storm surge, tidal flood, salinity intrusion and lower productivity. The coastal belt economy is most important for over all development of the country.
Our Chattogram port is the principal maritime gateway. Diverse economic activities: industrial enterprises, shipping, garments, agro-products and marine resources are being explored. However, there are more scopes to expend Chattogram, Mongla and Payra ports based export activities.
The challenges of 'The Delta Plan 2100' are its implementation and finance. The century-long delta plan needs a national discussion for creating Delta fund. Bangladesh will have to spend 2.5 per cent of its GDP annually on Delta management. Green Climate Fund will provide $2 billion every year. The rest will come from the government, partners, private sectors and foreign investments.
For implementation of projects under Delta Plan 2100, a large foreign investment is required. Identification of appropriate investors is also important. 'The Delta Plan 2100' is a potential sector for investments- investors will be benefitted. The foreign embassies could work actively to build good economic relations with donor countries, as well with World Bank, IFAD, JICA and IDB.
It is known to us that after Second World War, the disintegration of Britain's empire- changed the world politics, the United States' global influence rose; Japan and Germany again become influential steps by steps. The IMF and World Bank were established by most powerful countries to promote multi-lateral trades and also to maintain influence after losing colonies during 2nd World War. Cool ware added complexities- Soviet Union maintained influence up to 1989.
However, nowadays 'new technologies and innovation' are more influential elements for development and to be more influential in the world. The developed countries are conducting basic research on 'nuclear energy, genetic engineering, bio-fuel, ICT software and marine biology' etc. The government could encourage talented researchers/professors with creative thinking- who will work hard for 'advancement of technologies and basic research' with international cooperation.
The world of diplomacy such as intelligence, decisions on behalf of government and negotiations has changed rapidly. Nowadays, diplomacy and new technologies has been advancing side by side, because technologies bring benefits to all. Research shows that diplomacy has been shaken to its core by 'rising new knowledge based bargaining strategies' on 'innovation and trade'. Most important change is shifts in balance from government-to-government to people-to-people diplomacy.
In free trade policy, different countries may trade without any prohibitions of trade/goods. However, in international trade- there are primitive tariffs (tax), and market control under the 'General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade' (GATT). In International market, the big players exercise their influence on global market. Now, International trade has the need of trade diplomacy. Bangladesh needs to gain capacity to entire into world trade more efficiently to export many products.
The idea of 'economic diplomacy' is to establish 'good trading relationships' by linking 'trade with foreign relations'. 'Economic diplomacy' means bilateral economic cooperation between two countries using network of diplomacy through activities of embassies for promoting own country's interest. Bangladesh should have better understanding- how foreign policy is bolstered by economic diplomatic relations.
The rising influence of China is a challenge to US global leadership. The world has reached to a 'critical turning point' for shifting in the balance of power based on 'reform and innovation'. The President of China, Xi Jinping has made 'the China's foreign policy' more effective by his great diplomatic thinking. China has proposed a series of new ways of carrying out 'global economic governance'- for example, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
With dynamic leaderships of Sheikh Hasina, Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh - China-Bangladesh diplomatic relationships has enhanced in terms of trade and investments. Under "BRI" framework of China; Bangladesh stands as an important partner in both 'the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century's Maritime Silk Road'. Chinese 'Silk Road' idea could bring significant benefits to Bangladesh through deepening economic connectivity: transport, trade and investment.
'The Silk Road' is not one continuous road, but a 4,000- miles long network of trade routes that connected China to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa for improving trade relationships. Out of six international economic corridors- one is 'Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar'. In this context, billions of dollars are being invested to 60 countries by China, as a part of Chinese BRI.
Bangladesh could be benefitted being connected to 'China's Maritime Silk Road' having enormous geo-strategic opportunities in the Bay of Bengal situated along the main Maritime route through Indian Ocean. As, a part of one economic corridor through Indian Ocean- China will continue coordination with Bangladesh for maintaining 'diplomatic and trading relations' in various fields.
Recently, China invested for 'Payra deep sea port'. China is also interested to finance for proposed Sonadia deep sea port near Cox's Bazar. This Island was found suitable for construction of deep sea port in a Japanese survey. However, other countries are also interested to finance for proposed Sonadia port. A strategic decision could be taken by the government to select financier for proposed Sonadia deep port.
We need a network of deep sea ports for usage of large ships. Chattogram and Mongla ports are too shallow for large ships, where as deep sea port are compatible of handling heavy loaded ships. Government is also planning to build another deep sea port in Matarbari, Cox's Bazar under Japanese cooperation. We have to take right decision for 'constructing proposed Sonadia deep port' in the face of geo-political competition.
For execution activities' under 'The Delta Plan 2100' huge amount of fund will be required. The fund is mainly for coastal protection, rivers dredging, and deep port construction etc. Further, more fund will be needed for exploring natural gas and oil from deep sea blocks and hydro-electric projects, as well for marine fisheries etc.
In the long term, export oriented income could be main sources of growth. The global and regional cooperation, as well privatization is important for enhancing exports. With superior leadership of business entrepreneurs, a company could achieve continual growth in export. In the national parliament- the government could raise two acts: a. simplified export acts and b. ISO certification acts for export quality maintenance.
Under dynamic leaderships of Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina- the global and regional cooperation is in a new era. Bangladesh will maintain its economic relations with all countries on 'the principles of peaceful settlements'. The government has been maintaining collaboration with China in the concept of Chinese 'BRI', as well maintaining collaboration with India, USA, Japan, Australia and the European Union (EU) for trade and development.
Funding from own and from foreign investment is powerful intervention. New norms of economic diplomacy must be adapted. A good collaboration with potential countries and emphasizing technological advancement and coastal industrial parks are important for maintaining an investment friendly environment. Coastal protection, best use of marine resources, as well and gas-oil mining could be emphasized.
Delta Plan 2100 has been proposed to integrate: investment, development friendly environment and technological innovation. With dynamic leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina- Bangladesh will be an emerging economic power of the 21st century.
The writer is Chief Scientific Officer, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute