Bangladeshi officials call for increased Belt and Road cooperation

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Active participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative is central to the two countries’ relationship, said a Bangladeshi official, noting brighter prospects for the China-Bangladesh relationship, with trade and investment cooperation being a strong pillar.

by Naim-Ul-Karim, Sun Nan

DHAKA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) — Bangladeshi government officials on Friday called for increased cooperation under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which they said has brought great changes to the South Asian country.

They made the remarks when speaking at the opening ceremony of “The Belt and Road Initiative in Bangladesh Exhibition 2023” held in the Bangladeshi capital, which marks the 10th anniversary of the Initiative.

The BRI has already brought transformative changes to Bangladesh as “it has strengthened our role as a vital connector in regional trade network,” Lokman Hossain Miah, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), supervised by the Prime Minister’s Office, said at the ceremony attended by nearly 400 representatives of Chinese and Bangladeshi enterprises.

“Active participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative is central to the two countries’ relationship,” he added, noting brighter prospects for the China-Bangladesh relationship, with trade and investment cooperation being a strong pillar.

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“Our participation in the Belt and Road Initiative is a testament to our shared commitment. So, let us see this moment, harness the opportunities it presents and work together to build a more prosperous and interconnected world,” said Miah, also a senior secretary of the Bangladeshi government.

Under the BRI, he said Bangladesh has implemented mega projects like the Padma Bridge Rail link, the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, South Asia’s largest sewage treatment plant, numerous power projects, and the Bangabandhu Bangladesh China-Friendship Exhibition Center.

Addressing the ceremony, A.H.M. Ahsan, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Bangladesh’s Export Promotion Bureau, said the BRI put forward 10 years ago is “a visionary project aimed at revitalizing the connectivity among Asia, Europe and Africa.”

“Over the past decade, we have witnessed the transformative impact of the BRI on global trade and investment with Bangladesh being an enthusiastic participant in this journey,” he noted.

Given Bangladesh’s strategic location as a bridge between South and Southeast Asia, he said, “Our nation has been a natural partner.”

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Bangladesh and China possess immense untapped potential for further collaboration, he said, noting, “China stands as Bangladesh’s top trading partner, a leading source of direct foreign investment and a significant source of raw material for our manufacturing industries.”

“We must continue to work together to harness the opportunities presented by the BRI, ensuring that the benefits are widespread and sustainable for both nations. As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the BRI, let us reaffirm our commitment to this remarkable journey of cooperation and partnership,” he said.

Md Anwar Hossain, additional secretary and wing chief of the Bangladeshi government’s Economic Relations Division under the Ministry of Finance, said, “The BRI presents an enormous potential to enhance our connectivity, unlock our economic potential and contribute to regional and global development.”

He further said that Bangladesh recognized the BRI as a model for international cooperation and a source of new opportunities for regional connectivity and economic integration.

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“We see the BRI as a valuable means to address our infrastructure deficit, boost industrialization, create jobs and enhance quality of life for our citizens,” the official said.

Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh Yan Hualong told the opening ceremony in a keynote speech that China will always be a trustworthy neighbor, close friend and cooperative partner of Bangladesh on its journey of modernization.

China will continue to encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest in Bangladesh and promote the steady and long-term development of China-Bangladesh economic and trade relations, said Yan.

“I believe that, under the Belt and Road Initiative, China-Bangladesh relations will surely reach a new height and open a new era of friendly cooperation,” Yan stressed.

The exhibition, jointly organized by the Chinese embassy, Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Chinese Enterprises Association in Bangladesh, demonstrates the achievements of BRI cooperation in Bangladesh. Its sideline events include workshops with Bangladeshi government departments, business forums and meetings, and job fairs.

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