China proposed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh
Nirapad News : China proposed on Sunday the signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh to boost trade ties between the two countries and thus minimise the trade gap with the latter.
The Chinese side came up with the proposal during the bilateral talks held between the officials of two countries at the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali led the 19-member Bangladesh side while his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi the 13-member China team at the meeting that reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
“China wants to start negotiation on FTA. We’ll explore the proposal,” Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque told reporters at the Foreign Ministry. No decision was taken yet as to whether Bangladesh would start the negotiation right now, he added.
He also said the Chinese side expressed its satisfaction over the process of establishing an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for Chinese investors.
“They think there’ll be a solid decision next year on the matter, and expressed the hope that it’ll take off,” said the Foreign Secretary.
He said the Chinese side indicated that they were considering a big investment in the economic zone.
The two-way trade between the two countries accounts for $10 billion mark, but is heavily tilted towards China.
Mr Haque said Bangladesh proposed rail and road connectivity through Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar-Myanmar-Kunming.
“Our Foreign Minister proposed it, and the Chinese side initially responded positively, especially on the road connectivity,” he added.
This route will be separate from the proposed Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, the talks for which are on.
On the BCIM Economic Corridor, the Chinese side appreciated Bangladesh’s leadership role, said the Foreign Secretary.
Responding to a question, the Foreign Secretary said China reiterated its interest for building a deep-sea port but Bangladesh was still considering all the proposals and new locations were in the discussion, too.
He said Bangladesh proposed hosting the Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) next year.
The Chinese Foreign Minister appreciated Bangladesh’s socioeconomic advancement under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership saying it was a role model of other developing countries.
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 forums were also discussed in the three-hour bilateral meeting that continued during the lunch time, too.
There were substantive discussions during lunch as well, said the Foreign Secretary adding that there would be lots of programmes next year to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and China.
BSS adds: The visiting Chinese Foreign Minister expressed his country’s eagerness to be a partner of the government’s endeavours to build a digital Bangladesh by 2021.
The two foreign ministers also reviewed progress in some memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and Letters of Exchange inked between the two countries during the official visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to China in June this year.
Mr Wang Yi agreed to hold a Bangladesh-China and Myanmar tripartite meeting for road connectivity, the foreign secretary added.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam was also present at the meeting.