Bangladesh Seeks Chinese Backing For Brics Membership Bid

By Tajul Islam

On June 25, Liu Jianchao, the visiting Minister of the International Relations of the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s Central Committee reaffirmed China’s commitment to fostering extensive cooperation with Bangladesh. During a courtesy call on Bangladesh President Mohammed Shahabuddin at the Bangabhaban, Liu emphasized China’s dedication to bolstering development ties and assured that China would continue to support Bangladesh’s growth in various sectors.

The relationship between Bangladesh and China is deeply rooted in history. President Shahabuddin expressed his hope for a stronger development partnership with China in the coming years. He also sought China’s support for Bangladesh’s bid to join the BRICS alliance, an intergovernmental organization comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates.

“China always attaches great importance to bolster the development ties with Bangladesh. It will always be beside Bangladesh’s development,” Liu stated, underscoring China’s enthusiasm for a collaborative future. He praised Bangladesh’s notable progress in infrastructure, information technology, communication, energy, and tourism. This recognition from a major global player like China highlights the significant strides Bangladesh has made in these fields.

President Shahabuddin reciprocated the sentiment, acknowledging China as one of Bangladesh’s most crucial development partners. He highlighted China’s instrumental role in implementing mega projects such as the Padma Bridge Rail Link, Karnaphuli Tunnel, and Elevated Expressway. These projects have been pivotal in accelerating Bangladesh’s economic development and enhancing its infrastructure.

Liu Jianchao informed Bangladesh that China is in favour of the expansion of BRICS and will strongly support Bangladesh in becoming a partner country. He also assured that China would positively consider allowing “Duty Free Quota Free” (DFQF) facilities to Bangladesh beyond 2026.

Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Hasan Mahmud reported that the Chinese minister also assured Bangladesh of continued Chinese support for a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis through repatriation. The foreign minister expressed satisfaction with the increased party-level engagements between the Bangladesh Awami League and the Communist Party of China.

While thanking the Chinese government for allowing DFQF market access for 98% of Bangladeshi products into the Chinese market, Hasan requested China to continue the DFQF access beyond 2026, when Bangladesh will graduate from the LDC status. He also emphasized more exports from Bangladesh, especially pharmaceuticals, ceramics, leather, and agricultural products, to China to reduce the trade imbalance.

Mentioning the last meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in August 2023, Hasan requested Chinese support for Bangladesh to become a partner country of BRICS.

Bangladesh’s interest in joining BRICS aligns with its strategic objectives of diversifying economic partnerships, enhancing its role in regional and global trade, and securing a stable and sustainable growth trajectory. With robust economic growth, increasing industrialization, and a strategic geographic location, Bangladesh stands as a promising candidate for BRICS membership.

Over the past decade, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable economic progress, maintaining an average GDP growth rate of around 6-7%. The country has emerged as a key player in the global textile industry, being the second-largest apparel exporter after China. The government’s Vision 2041 aims to transform Bangladesh into a high-income country by leveraging industrial growth, technological innovation, and human capital development.

Joining BRICS could open new avenues for investment in Bangladesh. The BRICS countries, with their significant economic resources, could provide substantial financial and technical assistance. Enhanced access to the New Development Bank (NDB) would facilitate infrastructure development projects, crucial for sustaining Bangladesh’s growth momentum.

BRICS membership would enable Bangladesh to diversify its trade partnerships beyond its traditional markets in the West. Increased trade with BRICS nations could reduce dependency on any single economic bloc, mitigating risks associated with global market fluctuations.

Bangladesh could benefit from technological transfers and industrial collaborations with BRICS countries, particularly in areas such as information technology, renewable energy, and manufacturing. Such partnerships could enhance Bangladesh’s industrial capabilities and foster innovation.

As a member of BRICS, Bangladesh would gain a stronger voice in international forums, contributing to shaping global economic policies. This enhanced geopolitical influence would support Bangladesh’s aspirations to play a more prominent role in regional and global affairs.

Earlier in April 2024, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira visited Bangladesh and expressed his country’s positive consideration of Bangladesh’s interest in joining BRICS. “Bangladesh is a country we closely monitor, with shared principles and positions. We will strongly and positively consider its inclusion in BRICS from our side,” Vieira remarked during a joint media briefing with Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister, Hasan Mahmud.

Foreign Minister Mahmud reiterated Bangladesh’s interest in joining BRICS, emphasizing the country’s strategic objectives and economic potential. This support from Brazil, a key BRICS member, underscores the potential for Bangladesh to gain entry into this influential group of emerging economies.

The recent engagements between Bangladesh and China, along with Bangladesh’s aspirations to join BRICS, reflect the country’s proactive approach to enhancing its global economic partnerships and securing a sustainable growth trajectory. China’s continued support and cooperation will play a vital role in Bangladesh’s development journey.

As Bangladesh moves forward with its Vision 2041, the collaboration with China and potential BRICS membership could provide significant impetus for achieving its economic goals. The focus on infrastructure development, technological innovation, and diversified trade partnerships will be crucial in transforming Bangladesh into a high-income country and a key player in the global economy.

China’s support for Bangladesh’s bid to join BRICS is not just a diplomatic gesture but a strategic alignment of interests. The collaborative projects already in place between the two nations serve as a testament to what can be achieved through mutual cooperation. The Padma Bridge Rail Link, Karnaphuli Tunnel, and Elevated Expressway are just a few examples of the infrastructural marvels that have not only enhanced connectivity within Bangladesh but also positioned it as a critical player in the regional economic landscape. (IPA Service)


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