PM Hasina's China Visit: Talks To Include 7 Billion Dollar Loan

(MENAFN- NewsIn) Raheed Ejaz/Prothom Alo

Dhaka, June 23: After almost a decade, prime Minister sheikh Hasina is to pay a state visit to China in the second week of July. During formal talks with Prime Minister Li Qiang on 9 July, financial assistance to meet Bangladesh's budget deficit and funding of new projects will be given importance.

Various areas of economic cooperation will gain focus during the forthcoming visit. In the backdrop of contemporary circumstances, geopolitics is likely to feature is discussions between the two leaders


A source at a high level in the government informed Prothom Alo of the matter. According to diplomatic sources, a significant aspect of this visit will be a Chinese loan of USD 7 billion, equal to around 50.40 billion yuan (5,040 crore yuan). Of this, China will provide the equivalent USD 5 billion under trade assistance and the equivalent of USD 2 billion under budget assistance in local currency as credit to Bangladesh.

Also, just as decision has been taken for transactions in taka and rupees with India, a decision may also be taken for transactions in taka and yuan with China. An MoU to this end is being prepared.

Preparation is on so far for 11 instruments, including seven MoUs, to be signed during the prime minister's Beijing visit. Significant among these are China's Global Development Initiative (GDI), trade assistance, investment protection, digital economy, blue economy, announcement of free trade agreement study as well as construction and renovation of several friendship bridges.

Bangladesh has sought credit assistance from several countries in order to tackle the dollar crunch and the diminishing foreign exchange reserves. China is on the list of these countries, Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen told Prothom Alo priority will be attached to trade and economy during the prime minister's visit. Discussions will focus on addressing the existing trade imbalance and areas of assistance.

Talks are on with China about trade assistance and budget assistance. This will possibly be finalised during the visit.

Visit Before the Visit

Two weeks in advance of the prime minister's Beijing visit, China's Communist Party central committee's international department minister Liu Jianchao arrived in Dhaka on Saturday. During his four-day trip he is scheduled to meet prime minister Sheikh Hasina and foreign minister Hasan Mahmud. He will also meet with leaders of Awami League and other political parties. Diplomatic sources say that the Dhaka visit of such an important leader of China's Communist Party before the prime minister's Beijing visit is significant.

Relations between the two countries at a political level grew close particularly after 2016. Liu Jianchao will apprise Dhaka of Beijing's views concerning the upcoming visit. He will also try to understand Bangladesh's views concerning the future of relations between the two countries, added the sources.

Main Visit Two Days

Diplomatic sources further say that prime minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit China from 8 to 11 July. However, the main agenda of the trip will be limited to 9 and 10 July. On 9 July official talks will be held between the two prime ministers. On 10 July prime minister Sheikh Hasina will hold talks with the Chinese president Xi Jinping. The prime minister is also scheduled to meet with the president of the Chinese parliament National People's Congress of China, Zhou Lusi.

LargeLloans in Chinese Currency

Dhaka and Beijing diplomatic sources say, Bangladesh has sought credit assistance from several countries in order to tackle the dollar crunch and the diminishing foreign exchange reserves. China is on the list of these countries. A few months ago China expressed interest in providing loans in yuan. The country has already started international transactions in yuan with several countries. Initially China wanted to provide a trade facilitation loan in local currency equivalent to around USD 5 billion. And Bangladesh wanted loan as budget assistance. Bangladesh reasoned that if the loan was taken as trade assistance, it would become a commercial loan. This may mean high interest and shorter repayment deadline. That could put pressure on the foreign debt situation.

In consideration of the country's overall condition, low interest long term loans can be taken. That makes it more logical to use the loan as budget assistance rather than trade facilitation. Later discussions were held with China about budget assistance loans. At the start of this month Bangladesh and Chinese officials discussed the credit issue. Finally China agreed to providing credit both as trade facilitation and budget assistance.

This correspondent was told by several officials present at the talks in Beijing, that the loan may be given from China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and the state-owned EXIM Bank. Tariff-Free Facilities

Even After 2026

There is a huge trade deficit between Bangladesh and China. While China provides 98 per cent tariff-free facilities on Bangladesh products, Bangladesh's exports to that country has hardly increased. Last year Bangladesh exported products of around USD 700 million and imported goods of over USD 20 billion. Bangladesh wants China's support for its development efforts. And China wants to consolidate its position among South Asian countries by contributing to the development process.

So China is likely to raise the issues of India, Japan, the US and such like-minded countries during talks this time Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said that the 98 per cent tariff-free facilities that China provides for Bangladeshi goods hardly makes any difference. It was also proposed that even after 2026 the tariff-free facilities should remain in place.

Transactions in Local Currency

Bangladesh's bilateral trade with China now exceeds USD 20 billion, almost all of which comprises imports by Bangladesh. Bangladesh has to spend huge amounts of dollars to import goods from China. The officials feel that if Bangladesh could use yuan for imports, this will be a big relief in this time of dollar crisis. Foreign ministry officials have said that talks are on for trade transactions to be in taka-yuan as in the case of taka-rupee transactions with India.

There are talks of an MoU to be signed in this regard between Bangladesh Bank and China's National Financial Regulatory Commission. New Projects China's president Xi Jinping visited Dhaka in September 2016. During this historic visit, it was decided to implement 27 projects. Of these, 15 have been completed, six are underway and there is consideration of replacing the remaining six with new projects.

It has been learnt that Bangladesh raised some new projects for China's consideration at the foreign secretary level meeting between the two countries at the beginning of this month. It was pointed out to China that much delay is there in scrutinising the projects because of which the feasibility of the projects is harmed.

Geopolitical Discussions

Bangladesh's prime minister is visiting China at a time when much is happening at an international and regional level. After President Xi Jinping's Dhaka visit in 2016, ties between the two countries grew strong at a political level. In this contest, according to diplomatic sources, it will be normal for the unstable situation in Rakhine, Myanmar, the Indo-Pacific, South China Sea, Taiwan and such issues to be raised in the discussions.

When their attention was drawn to talks at various levels between the two countries in recent times, several diplomats told this correspondent that China has raised the issues of the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), as well as about the US and its allies. Even after Bangladesh declared its Indo-Pacific Outlook before prime minister Sheikh Hasina's Japan visit last year, Bangladesh held talks with China. China was not too pleased with the joint declaration during that trip. Later Bangladesh explained the matter and assuaged China's unease.

Diplomatic analysts feel that China is at present under pressure due to the Taiwan situation. This issue will be raised. Bangladesh as always followed the 'One China' policy. Bangladesh wants China's support for its development efforts. And China wants to consolidate its position among the South Asian countries by contributing to the development process. So China is likely to raise the issues of India, Japan, the US and such like-minded countries during talks this time.

When asked about the issue, Bangladesh former ambassador to China Munshi Faiz told Prothom Alo, the matter of economic cooperation in continuity of the past will gain priority during prime minister's China visit. Alongside bilateral relations, the matter of relations with India and geopolitical issues may emerge in the talks. He further said in this regard we must advance forward, taking the sensitivity of all parties concerned. In consideration of national interests in the light of greater geopolitics, Bangladesh needs to explain to China that it gives due importance to the sensitivities and views of all countries.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir




Legal Disclaimer:
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.