Bangladesh eyes more than 25 deals with China during President Xi's visit

Bangladesh is expecting to sign more than 25 MoUs and agreements during the historic visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping beginning Friday.

Published : 13 Oct 2016, 07:04 PM
Updated : 14 Oct 2016, 01:17 PM

Bangladesh is expecting to sign more than 25 MoUs and agreements during the historic visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping beginning Friday.

“We are hoping to sign over 25 MoUs and deals which will deepen the cooperation in the areas of economic, trade and investment, electricity and power, information communication technology, infrastructure development for road, railway and waterway communication and agriculture,” Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said Thursday.

Ali, however, declined to disclose the amount of the financial packages covering the deals by saying that “discussions are still ongoing”.

However, the officials involved in preparing the “state visit” indicated that it would be in between $20 and $25 billion.

Xi arrives Dhaka on Friday morning as a Chinese president visiting Bangladesh in 30 years. The last visit of a Chinese president took place in 1986.

President Md Abdul Hamid will receive him at the airport amid a rousing state reception and 21 gun salutes.

Briefing journalists the foreign minister said this would “begin a historic new journey by opening a new horizon in economic relations”. The visit was a gesture of Bangladesh-China friendship, he added.

According to the Economic Relations Division (ERD), seven agreements have been finalised.

ERD Additional Secretary Abul Mansur Muhammad Faizullah told a list of 28 projects has also been made for Chinese financing.

He said MoUs on financing the projects would be signed on Friday. "The final agreements will be signed gradually in next five years."

According to ERD sources, the agreements include Chinese aid, infrastructure development and loans.

Some $83 million aid will be used for circulating information along the coast during disasters and purchase of 1,000 fire-fighting motorbikes for the Fire Service.

The infrastructure deals include one on a tunnel connecting the two banks of the river Karnaphuli in Chittagong. The tunnel is expected to ease traffic jams in the port city and improve connectivity between Cox's Bazar and the rest of the country.

The other infrastructure deal is on Dhaka WASA's Dasherkandi water treatment plant which is designed to clean water of the Balu river. It will also recycle the sewage from Dhanmondi, Banani, Baridhara, Mohakhali and Tejgaon areas.

Two loan deals worth $700 million will be signed on the Karnaphuli tunnel and another worth $280 million on Dasherkandi plant. The other loan deal will be on the purchase of a number of vessels, including three oil tankers.

ERD Additional Secretary Faizullah said the total estimated cost of the 28 projects on which the MoUs are expected to be signed is $22 billion, or Tk 1.76 trillion, which is more than a third of the 2016-17 budget of Bangladesh.

[Additional input by Staff Correspondent Zafar Ahmed]

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher