Dhaka, Beijing to seal the deal on deep-sea port

Hasina goes to China on June 6

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Bangladesh wants to conclude the negotiations with China on construction of a deep-sea port at Sonadia in Cox’s Bazar during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina there.

“We have analysed three proposals [for deep-sea port] that were submitted to the government and we found the Chinese proposal is the best. We hope to sign an instrument with China during the visit of the prime minister in Beijing,” said a senior official of the Foreign Ministry.

Sheikh Hasina is going to China on June 6 on a five-day trip and is scheduled to return home on June 11.

Bangladesh has long been negotiating the mega-project and invited all interested countries to submit their proposals and three countries – the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and China – showed interest, said the official.

“They made presentations before the high-powered committee headed by the principal secretary where foreign and shipping secretaries are also members,” he said.

After evaluation, the committee found that the Chinese proposal was the best, he added.

“During the visit, we would like to hand over a ‘letter of intent’ to the Chinese side to build the port,” the official said, adding that the multi-billion
dollar project at Sonadia can be set up by a single country or it can be a consortium.

“We want to keep it open. Depending on the situation, a consortium can be formed to build the port following consultation between Bangladesh and China.”

When asked about geopolitical pressure, he said, “Bangladesh should first consider its national interest. We waited too long for the project.”

An inter-ministerial meeting on the prime minister’s visit to China was held at the Foreign Ministry yesterday with Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque in the chair and various issues, including deep-sea port, were discussed in the meeting.

Bangladesh has two sea ports – Chittagong and Mongla – and felt the need to have the deep-sea port because of the growing demand from business people.

At present, both the ports handle over $60 billion of trade, which is growing at a faster rate.

Hasina’s visit

The prime minister will fly to Kunming from Dhaka to attend the South Asia Expo and will have an interaction with Chinese businessmen to encourage them to make more investment in Bangladesh, said another official of the Foreign Ministry.

“She will fly to Beijing on June 8 and will have official talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang,” he said. They will declare a joint statement after the meeting.

She will also call on Chinese President Xi Jinping and will have another interaction with Chinese businessmen, he said.

“The primary focus of the visit will be to lure investment and cooperation in deep-sea port, power and infrastructure,” he added.

Bangladesh has already awarded Padma Bridge project to a Chinese company and signed a contract yesterday.

Bangladesh has multi-dimensional cooperation with China and it is the biggest trading partner of Bangladesh with two-way trade is over $10 billion but it is heavily tilted towards Beijing.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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