Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Monday, December 29, 2014, Poush 15, 1421, Robiul Awal 6, 1436 Hijr

China reiterates interest in deep sea-port, offers FTA
Published : Monday, 29 December, 2014,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 26

Diplomatic Correspondent
China has proposed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh to boost trade between the two countries and reduce trade gap.
Such a proposal was made during the official talks between China and Bangladesh in Dhaka on Sunday. The visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi led a 13-member delegation while Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali led a 19-member Bangladesh team at the three-hour long bilateral talks at the Foreign Ministry conference room, an official said.
The Chinese FM arrived in Dhaka on a three-day official visit on Saturday.
Bangladesh and China reviewed the entire gamut of their bilateral relations at the Foreign Minister-level talks.
The Chinese officials expressed satisfaction over the process of establishing an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for Chinese investors and entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
They indicated that China was considering making a huge investment in the economic zone.
Wang Yi during his maiden visit to Bangladesh laid emphasis on further boosting bilateral ties and the foreign ministry said the visit has special importance.
 "China wants to start negotiation on FTA. We'll explore the proposal," Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told reporters at the ministry adding that no decision was taken yet whether Bangladesh would start the negotiation right now.
The Foreign Secretary said China reiterated their interest in building a deep-seaport in the Bay of Bengal, but Bangladesh has not made any commitment and is still considering locations, and proposals made by various companies.
Bangladesh proposed hosting the Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) with China next year. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs will soon confirm the schedule of the Foreign Ministers level meeting, the Foreign Secretary said.
China-Bangla relations reached a new height this year following Beijing's unequivocal support to the much-talked- about January 5 general election which was criticised by the US and its western allies.
Following re-election, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited China in June, when Beijing's leadership committed to support Bangladesh in large infrastructure projects.
Yi's visit follows the Sheikh Hasina's June visit when both sides inked several deals and agreed to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations jointly next year.
Chinese government also announced that a series of high-level visits would take place between the two countries to commemorate the 40th anniversary of relationship that would take the cooperation "to an ever-growing new height".
The exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in cultural, educational and military fields will further deepen, the official said.
Apart from trade, investment and infrastructure development issues, people-to-people contact, defence cooperation, maritime cooperation, energy cooperation, agriculture, climate change and cooperation in international forum were also discussed in the bilateral meeting.
Before the formal beginning of the bilateral meeting, the Chinese Foreign Minister visited a historic room located on the ground floor of the ministry named 'Bangladesh Foreign Policy Genesis: A Pictorial Exhibition'.
At the meeting, both sides discussed the progress on the deals and MoUs signed between Bangladesh and China during Prime Minister's Sheikh Hasina's China visit.
China set an import target of $10 trillion and outbound investment of $500 billion for the next five years.
Bangladesh "deserves to have a proper share" of this development, new Chinese envoy in Dhaka Li Jun said.
During Prime Minister's visit, both sides signed an agreement to commission a coal-based power plant in Bangladesh and agreed to construct a special economic zone for China in Bangladesh.
An MoU was also signed for building an underwater tunnel in the River Karnaphuli involving $1 billion.
Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China expects follow-up actions on the agreed important issues with Bangladesh and mapping out commemorative activities to be held next year.
She said China also wants to extend bilateral cooperation in economy and trade, connectivity and people-to-people exchanges, and further boost to China-Bangladesh relations.
Wang Yi also met President Abdul Hamid at Gonobhaban and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at PMO Secretariat on Sunday. President Hamid also visited China last month.
"This visit is basically a stocktaking of our Prime Minister's visit. We are expecting either Chinese president or Prime Minister would come next year in the joint celebration (of diplomatic ties)," a senior foreign ministry official.
"The visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister reaffirms the high importance both the countries attach to their bilateral relations and forms part of the high-level visits between the two countries," the foreign ministry earlier said in a statement, ahead of his arrival.
Beijing also established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, amid US's criticism where Bangladesh and a number of other countries joined as founding members.
He said that China had indicated a surge in its investments and cooperation in infrastructure construction.
Bangladesh has also put forward a number of projects for Chinese investment that officials say remain still in the negotiation phase.
Bangladesh is also working closely with China in achieving Beijing's dream plan - a regional economic corridor dubbed as "Silk Road" linking Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar from Kunming to Kolkata.
The Chinese FM made a courtesy call on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Sunday night.
Hours before his departure he is expected to call on Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Begum Raushan Ershad at her office in Parliament building today.
Yi is scheduled to leave Dhaka today afternoon.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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