China has released $4.45 billion for 35 projects under the Belt and Road Initiative in the last 10 years.
Of the projects in the country's road, rail, ICT and socio-economic development sectors, 10 have been implemented. Bangladesh signed agreements with China regarding the initiative in 2013, said Abdur Razzak, chairman of the private research organisation RAPID, at an event to unveil a report titled "The Belt and Road Initiative in Bangladesh: Achievement and Way Forward", organised by the Chinese embassy in a Dhaka hotel on Thursday.
Among the projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, the most notable are the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, and Cox's Bazar Airport.
RAPID Chairman Razzak said, "There are 70 countries under the BRI. We want to benefit from this investment. We have a lack of infrastructure. More development is needed in that area. China has maintained its position in world trade. We have to utilise this opportunity."
He also said the country's GDP will increase by 2% to 4% if $10 billion is invested under the BRI projects. If the project is implemented globally, Bangladesh's commercial expenses will decrease in 75 countries.
Education Minister Dipu Moni said Bangladesh became the first country to ensure 100% electrification in South Asia only because of the Chinese investment.
She said 16 Chinese companies have established their South Asian headquarters in Bangladesh. The two countries will continue trade, investment and technology exchange to ensure mutual development.
Chinese Ambassador Yao Wen said the Belt and Road Initiative investments in Bangladesh are contributing to the improvement of people's living standards. China is implementing 21 bridges and 27 power projects in Bangladesh. Around 670 Chinese companies have invested in the country. China will participate in many of Bangladesh's 100 economic zones.
In a panel discussion at the event, General Secretary of Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry Al Mamun Mridha said, "If the BRI projects are implemented, our exports to the whole world will increase by 10-15%. Many more people will benefit from BRI projects. Village people are now getting high-speed internet. Houses are now getting electricity."
"We have gone through a lot of difficult times. We have received 7-8% of our total loans from our friend China on easy conditions. Hopefully, this cooperation will continue in the future."
He said Chinese investment in Bangladesh has been increasing after Covid-19 pandemic. Bangladesh's trade with China has increased to $25 billion, 90% of which are imports of industrial raw materials and capital machinery. China has not disrupted supply for a single day except during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Anwar Hossain, additional secretary of the Economic Relations Division, said, "The BRI projects have opened new possibilities for us. As a result, investment opportunities have increased. However, we have to move towards skill development."