Oil exploration, trade on Bangladesh PM’s Beijing agenda
Dhaka: Getting China to join the race for hydrocarbons in the Bay of Bengal and bridging the bilateral trade gap are high on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s agenda as she leaves for Beijing on Wednesday.
Eighty-seven delegates, including businessmen, will be part of her entourage during the five-day visit.
Highly-placed sources said officials are busy fine-tuning the programme schedules to make the visit a success, the Daily Star said.
Hasina signed five deals with India during her visit to New Delhi in January and follow-up measures are afoot on both sides.
Four deals are scheduled to be inked with China.
Hasina will hold bilateral talks with her counterpart Wen Jiabao on March 18.
The two countries are expected to sign deals, including construction of a fertiliser factory, Chinese investment in Bangladesh`s oil and gas fields and waiver of a USD 800 million loan from China.
Foreign Ministry sources said Chinese assistance for various projects in Bangladesh, like the construction of the seventh Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, Chittagong-Myanmar-Kunming Highway and a Bangladesh-China exhibition centre and a deep-sea port at Sonadia Island in Cox`s Bazar, will be sought during the talks.
Officials said Dhaka`s concern on the issue of balance of trade is also expected to figure in the talks. The bilateral trade volume between the two countries amounted to about USD 4.67 billion in 2008 with the balance of trade tilted heavily in favour of Beijing.
China had opposed Bangladesh`s liberation and established ties with the new nation only in 1976. Since then it has emerged as a trade partner and supplier of defence hardware.
Dhaka`s relations with Beijing cooled when the former recognised Taiwan and allowed setting up of an office.
Hasina last visited Beijing in 1996 during her earlier tenure as the prime minister.