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    South Asia
     Apr 24, 2012


Bangladesh gets boost from China investment
By Syed Tashfin Chowdhury

DHAKA - China has agreed to make the second-biggest investment by any nation in Bangladesh by contributing two-thirds of the US$659 million construction cost of fertilizer factory in Sylhet. The remaining funds will be from Bangladesh.

The Shahjalal Fertilizer Factory, once complete in about three years, will produce around 580,800 tonnes of urea annually and around 330,000 tonnes of ammonia, cutting by more a third the 1.6 million tonnes of urea Bangladesh has to import every year. Three more fertilizer factories are to be built within Bangladesh soon, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said late month as she laid the foundation stone at Sylhet, flanked by cabinet ministers and

 

Chinese Ambassador in Bangladesh Li Jun.

This is the "second-largest foreign investment" by any country in Bangladesh, a senior official at the Bangladesh industries ministry said.

China's $486 million contribution to the Shahjalal Fertilizer plant comes after India made a $1.5 billion investment in a coal-fired power plant in January. Bangladesh expects Indian companies to invest between $7 billion and $9 billion in its power sector in the coming years, according to an Economic Times report last month. The country will need about $30 billion over the next six years to meet its planned increase in power capacity and expects about 25-30% of the investments to come from India, the report cited Bangladesh Power Secretary Abul Kalam Azad as saying.

Dhaka has been pressing Beijing to make investments in infrastructure, energy and other sectors to close the trade gap between Bangladesh and China. During the12 months to last June, Bangladesh exported only around $400 million of goods to China against $7 billion of imports, 21% of Bangladesh's total imports of $33 billion.

That does not take account of a Bangladesh Air Force agreement signed last year with China to purchase 16 F-7BGI Fighter planes, three MI-171 helicopters and two Air Defense radar systems, worth a possible total of more than $600 million.

China is to install a centralized effluent treatment plant at the under-construction Savar Leather Industrial Park in Savar, northwest of Dhaka.

The Chinese joint venture of JLEPCL-DCL was awarded the $58.34 million project on March 11. The leather park will house 195 tanneries, which will export processed leather to the European Union and United States. The tanneries, at present located at Hazaribagh in Dhaka, have posed environmental threats over the past decade as they discharge toxic waste into the river Buriganga.

After tests in 2000 found zero-levels of dissolved oxygen in the river, the government, under pressure from environmental organizations, moved to create the $66 million, 200-acre Savar leather park project in 2003.

China is ready to participate in a deep-sea project at Sonadia Island on the Bay of Bengal and help set up road and rail links with Dhaka through Myanmar, United News of Bangladesh has reported. China says the propose deep sea port on Sonadia Island is of strategic importance to the country and will help it become a transportation and logistic center for the region.

"So long as the Bangladesh side shows enough will and determination, this project can obtain positive progress very soon,'' outgoing Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xianyi said in January before ending his term in the post. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought Chinese assistance to build the seaport during her visit to Beijing last year.

The ambassador said China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd had set up an office in Dhaka and is ready to take part in the project.

Construction is due to start in 2014 on the 7th China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge at Kazirtek, on the Arial Khan river, between Dhaka and Barisal after a contract was signed on January 3. China's Anhui Construction Engineering Group Overseas Development Co is to build three other bridges on the Madaripur-Shariatpur-Chandpur road in Bangladesh. The total cost of the four bridges will be $33.67 million, of which $24.42 million would be received as a loan from China, with the rest to be provided by Bangladesh.

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury is the Editor of Xtra, the weekend magazine of New Age, in Bangladesh.

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)





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