A Chinese business and trade delegation Thursday in Dhaka signed a total of 13 deals valued at US$186 million for investment and import of Bangladeshi goods.
The contracts were inked for upgrading Bangladesh's jute mills and purchase Bangladeshi products like raw jute, frozen fish and sea food, jute yarn, and leather during a meeting between businessmen of Bangladesh and China.
The meeting was organised by the Trade Promotion Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce, China; Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh; and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
EPB Vice-Chairman Mafruha Sultana presented a keynote at the business talks Thursday.
The Chinese businessmen have already arrived in the city ahead of the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who comes today (Friday) on a two-day visit.
The state-owned Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and the Department for China Textile Industrial Corporation for Foreign Economic and Technical Cooperation signed a $6.0 million deal for upgrading the government-run jute mills for producing value-added goods.
The rest of the 12 separate contracts were signed between the private companies of China and Bangladesh to export different products to the worlds' second-largest economy.
FBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmad on the sidelines of the business talks told the FE that the 13 contracts were a beginning of cooperation between the businessmen of both the countries.
"You will now see a lot of investments and businesses will be expanding in future," he said.
In the meeting, Mr Ahmad urged the Chinese government to allow one-way duty-free quota-free (DFQF) access of Bangladeshi products to its markets.
The FBCCI President urged the visiting business delegation to invest in Bangladesh and import more Bangladeshi products like jute, jute goods, leather goods, frozen foods etc to narrow down the massive trade gap between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Commercial Councilor of the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka Li Guangium said Bangladesh could get the preferential trade facilities in the Chinese market by adding at least 40 per cent value at the locally-made products.
"At present Bangladesh has very low level of capacity to add value to its products. We (China) are ready to support Bangladesh to enhance the capacity for boosting the value-addition on different exportable items," he said.
He expressed the hope Chinese enterprises would invest in different sectors like telecommunications, ICT, jute, leather as a dedicated Chinese economic zone (EZ) are going to set up here.
He noted that the President Xi is likely to inaugurate the Chinese EZ in Chittagong today.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, China Liu Changyu said Chinese and Bangladesh economies are is comprehensive as both the nations are growing.
"We want collaboration in different sectors like mining, agriculture, and technology transfer with Bangladesh. I hope businesses of both the countries will open up their windows gradually." he said.
EPB Vice-Chairman urged the Chinese trade and business delegation to invest in Bangladesh as the government is offering different tariff facilities and infrastructure support.
Meanwhile Reuters adds: China's Jiangsu Etern Co Ltd signed a deal worth $1.1 billion to strengthen the power grid network in Bangladesh, the company said Thursday, ahead of a visit to the country by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Ltd and Etern signed the four-and-a-half year deal to "expand, rebuild and upgrade Bangladesh's nationwide electrical network system", Etern said in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange.
Etern said Bangladesh had applied for concessionary loans from China for the project, which is the latest addition to Xi's "One Belt, One Road" plan, under which China is seeking to open new trade routes and markets as its economy slows.
Etern, which produces mainly cables and communications equipment, has had other deals in Bangladesh, including a winning bid for a power plant project for $304.6 million in August.
Xi begins a trip to Cambodia and Bangladesh this week, and also to India, where he will attend a summit of the BRICS group of emerging nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.