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Bangladesh can walk a long way thanks to BRI

Md Enamul Hassan     People's Daily Online   08:54, November 18, 2019

Bangladesh has steadily achieved tremendous success in its economic sectors over recent years. Though many factors and actors have stakes in the extraordinary progress of the economy of Bangladesh, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a major player.

As a Bangladeshi journalist, I realize the role that the BRI has played in the growth of micro and macro economies in my country. Bangladesh joined the initiative in 2013, and ever since, the BRI has been contributing to Bangladesh's GDP, which witnessed a growth of 8.13 percent last year, up from 6.3 percent in 2012.

Since Bangladesh joined the initiative, several BRI projects have already been implemented and people of Bangladesh are reaping dividends of those projects. The Bangladesh Power System Upgrade and Expansion Project is a successful example. This project has benefited more than seven million Bangladeshis by helping to provide electricity connections to over 2.5 million rural people.

Every project has created a huge number of jobs bringing about enormous socio-economic developments in Bangladesh and contributing to the improvement of people's livelihoods.

The China-backed Karnaphuli Multi-Channel Tunnel Project is now underway. Once completed, the tunnel will connect the port city of Chittagong to the far side of the Karnaphuli River the site of a new Chinese economic zone. It will shorten travel time from four hours to just twenty minutes. The Special Chinese Economic Zone, another BRI project in the south of Bangladesh, will have the capacity to house 150-200 industrial units and will focus on a range of different industrial sectors, including shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, electronics, agro-business, IT, chemicals, power and textiles. 

The 750-acre economic zone is set to create more than 75,000 jobs, a boon to the huge number of unemployed youths in Bangladesh.

The Padma Bridge rail link, upon fruition will cut the travel time from Dhaka to Kolkata the capital of Indian state of West Bengal, from nine hours to about four. The bridge will ease pressure on the country's premier seaport in Chittagong as it will bolster the second largest Mongla seaport in Bagerhat. 

Apart from these examples, China has been contributing to the production of electricity in Bangladesh by investing in different power plants throughout the country. The South Asian country will need to produce 34,000 megawatts more electricity by 2030 to sustain its current rate of economic growth. Bangladesh can benefit from the construction of Chinese-funded power stations under the BRI because the cost of power produced in Chinese power plants is significantly cheaper. 

With such investments and other cooperation deals, the BRI has created enormous opportunities for Bangladesh to reach its goal of becoming a middle-income country.

Economists are of the view that the country has to diversify its export markets and goods as well as explore new markets for its human resources to maintain its remittance inflows which are considered the lifeline of its fast-growing economy. 

In this case, the BRI,with its principles of extensive consultation and joint contributions for mutual benefits has come as a huge opportunity for Bangladesh.

The South Asian country can walk a long way thanks to the BRI's enormous potential and its global network across Asia, Africa and Europe. 

The author is a journalist with the Daily Sun, Bangladesh and is currently participating in the China Asia Pacific Press Center 2019 program in Beijing.