Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Tuesday said the trade relationship between Bangladesh and China is excellent.
Terming China as a trusted friend and the largest development partner, he said, Beijing has invested in a good number of development projects including some mega projects here that is contributing significantly to overall economy.
The minister was addressing the “Lecture on China-Bangladesh Relations’ as the chief guest, organised by the ‘World Energy Council Bangladesh Member Committee’ at Westin Hotel Dhaka.
“The bilateral trade between Bangladesh and China presently stands at US$12 billion,” the minister said adding, “China offers duty-free quota-free (DFQF) facility to about 500 Bangladeshi commodities to its market and recently they have reduced duty on five specific items of Bangladesh.”
The high-range of exports to China enjoying DFQF facilities has been expediting the country’s economic growth, he added.
During the recent visit of Chinese premier to Bangladesh, the governments of two countries decided to implement a total of 26 projects with Chinese assistance. As part of those, the Karnaphuly Tunnel project is going to be implemented, while many development programmes are also getting support from the Chinese government, he added.
The minister praised the role of Sikder Group — a leading business conglomerate of the country as it is contributing immensely to the economic development, employment generation and industrialization in the country.
“Sikder Group is a renowned business group that has many companies in different areas of industrialization including power plant. Rick Haque Sikder and Ron Haque Sikder are closely known to me. They are not only investing in Bangladesh but also have expanded their entrepreneurship in some other countries including Thailand, USA etc,” the minister added.
He mentioned that John Haque Sikder, one of the young entrepreneurs of Sikder family, has recently participated in ‘Forbes Asia Forum: The Next Tycoons’ which is really praise worthy and a matter of pride.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Bipu attended the ceremony as special guest. Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Zhang Zuo presented keynote paper at the lecture. Chairman of Power Pac Limited Rick Haque Sikder and Managing Director Ron Haque Sikder were also present as guests of honor on the occasion.
While addressing the lecture, Nasrul Hamid said the government will implement a 7 billion dollar project in the power sector to install underground electricity distribution lines.
He said the project will be launched ahead of the coming general elections. Besides, a 1.3 billion dollar project on power sector has been signed with EXIM Bank, few days back.
He mentioned that the Chinese investment is less costly compared to the finances from many other countries.
In the keynote paper, Chinese Ambassador, Zhang Zuo said his country will support Chinese companies to carry out infrastructure cooperation with Bangladeshi in energy, railway, bridge and communications.
“We will promote inter-governmental cooperation to achieve positive progress and encourage Chinese financial institutes to provide financing support for cooperation projects. China will stay supportive for innovation-driven efforts, joint construction of industrial zones and expansion of digital, green, maritime and sharing economies as well as internet finance to build new technologies, industries and new types of business,” the Ambassador added.
Former state minister for environment and forest, Dr. Hasan Mahmud, director general (DG) of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Benazir Ahmed were also present.