China says Bangladesh's proposeddeep seaport in Sonadia Island is of strategic importance to the country and ishelpful to become the regional transportation and logistic centre.
''So long Bangladesh side showsenough will and determination, this project can obtain positive progress verysoon,'' outgoing Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xianyi made the remarks in hispre-departure interview with UNB on Saturday.
During Prime Minister SheikhHasina's visit to Beijing last year, Bangladesh sought the Chinese assistanceto build the deep seaport. The Ambassador said Chinese enterprises haveadvanced technologies, equipments and ample funds.
He said China Harbour EngineeringCompany Ltd., having rich experience in this sector, has set up its office inDhaka and is ready to participate in this project in commercial manner. Xianyisaid Chinese enterprises are also ready to cooperate with enterprises from othercountries to jointly take part in this project.
Asked about the much talked abouttri-nation road and rail links, he said China stands ready to work togetherwith Bangladesh and Myanmar to establish the road and railway links among thethree countries at an earlier date.
"There are already severalroutes that connect China and Myanmar. For routes between Bangladesh andMyanmar, I hope Bangladesh can have more consultation with Myanmar to push thisprocess forward.''
The Ambassador said the Chineseside always attaches importance to the connectivity among China, Bangladesh andMyanmar. "'We believe, this is conducive to the economic, cultural, peopleto people links, and to peace and stability of this region.''
Asked about Chinese assistance indredging of riverbeds in Bangladesh, Ambassador Xianyi said that against thebackdrop of climate change, river dredging becomes even more important. Eachyear, the Chinese government provides training to Bangladeshi officials andtechnicians, he said.
On September last year, he saidChina Harbour Engineering Company Ltd was selected to implement a project forJamuna River dredging (14 kms).
Asked about the construction ofthe 7th and 8th Friendship Bridges, the ambassador said that the constructioncontract on the 7th China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge at Kajirtek was signedon January 3 this year and the works will start very soon.
About the 8th Friendship Bridge,he said consultations are going on between the two countries and hopefully,there will be a positive result soon.
Asked about bilateral trade andeconomic cooperation, Xianyi said the two-way trade volume in the first 11months of 2011 reached US$ 7.5 billion with an increase of 21.3 percentcompared with the same period in 2010.
Bangladesh's export to Chinareached US$ 400 million, an increase of 79.5 percent, while the Chineseinvestment in Bangladesh in 2011 amounted to more than $ 200 million.
Ambassador Xianyi said Bangladeshand China signed agreements on introduction of 3G technology and expansion of2.5G network as well as construction of Shahjalal Fertilizer Factory. Theconstruction work will start very soon. Besides, China exempted debts ofBangladesh worth more than 600 million RMB.
Asked about providing duty-freeaccess to more Bangladesh products, the Ambassador said that since July 1,2010,China began offering zero tariff treatment to 4,762 Bangladesh products,covering 70 percent of Bangladesh exports to China.
As a result, he said Bangladesh'sexport to China has increased by 91 percent in 2010 and 79.5 percent in 2011."As next step, China will increase this ratio to 97 percent,'' he said,adding Bangladeshi businesses can make full use of widely open Chinese marketand increase their exports to China.
Replying to a question abouteasing visa regime for Bangladeshi businessmen and tourists, Xianyi said theChinese embassy has already eased the visa procedure for Bangladeshi businesscommunity.
In 2011, the Embassy of Chinaissued visas to more than 20,000 Bangladesh citizens.