China links removal of hurdles to drawing more investment

- A Monitor Report 16 May, 2018 | 618 Views | - +
Dhaka : Poor infrastructure and low efficiency of the government agencies of Bangladesh discourages Chinese investors, said a top Chinese diplomat.

But Chinese investors are interested in exploring opportunities in projects on a “Build, Operate, Transfer” basis and public-private partnership projects, said Li Guangjun, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.

Li Guangjun, said at present, Chinese investment in Bangladesh is quite meagre in terms of overall volume of its outbound investment.

Li's comments came in an event styled 'Eastern Bank Limited conclave 2018: A new era in China-Bangladesh strategic partnership', organised by a leading private bank at the capital's Westin Hotel, where the bank disclosed expanding its operations to southern Chinese city of Guangzhou by this year to facilitate trade and investment.

China is the largest trading partner of Bangladesh and the volume of bilateral trade stood at US$16 billion in the financial year 2016-17. But the trade was heavily tilted in favour of China (US$15 billion), which has been a concern for Bangladesh.

In the first quarter this year, China's investment in Bangladesh soared 46.8 per cent year-on-year, he said, adding that Chinese investors are exploring opportunities to invest in several big power plants in the country.

Li said he heard about quick operation of one-stop service when he joined the embassy in Dhaka two and a half years ago, but it is not yet fully functional, although ensuring such fast service is a must to attract investment.

According to Li, various problems such as infrastructure deficiency, high cost of logistics services, administrative bottlenecks, complexities in getting work permit on time, and inefficient functioning of one-stop service etc. are discouraging a large number of Chinese companies from investing in Bangladesh.

Li, also termed Bangladesh a key strategic partner of China in the context of its flagship move, the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).

He suggested three things in this regard - FTA (free trade agreement) between the countries, synergise five-year plans of both countries, and heightened cooperation_ to increase industrial capacity to take the bilateral relations to a new era.

In the first quarter of 2018, bilateral trade volume amounts to US$4.3 billion, up 20.1 per cent year-on-year. But the balance of trade is heavily tilted in China's favour.

He went on to state that a quota-free treatment for 97 per cent of the goods from Bangladesh is on the cards.

"I am sure that with our full commitments and concerted efforts, the ship of China-Bangladesh cooperation will brave winds and waves and sail toward a bright new era," he remarked.

Former President of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Mir Nasir Hossain, and a Director of EBL, urged the Chinese investors to relocate their factories to Bangladesh to cut down on production costs.

"China can import manufactured products from Bangladesh, taking various advantages here like cheap labour."

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