a year ago

China-led new global development forum

Bangladesh vetting deal on joining GDI amid world reordering

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Bangladesh and China seem poised to join forces in a new Beijing-sponsored forum styled Global Development Initiative (GDI) with a massive development programme.

Sources have said the Chinese government sent Bangladesh the final draft of the memorandum of understanding or MoU on the GDI seeking feedback and confirmation, and the vetting of its nitty-gritty is in progress.

According to highly placed sources, the draft incorporates some of the comments forwarded by Bangladesh side earlier.

In lockstep with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is coming up GDI as the latest flagship development recipe conceived by Chinese President Xi Jinping under which China intends to support development aspirations of other countries.

Emerging in the wake of current context of what is dubbed reordering of world order from bipolar through unipolar to multipolar, the forum’s draft MoU proposes to take China-Bangladesh strategic cooperative partnership to new highs.

Also envisaged is making full use of Chinese grants, interest- free loans, concessional loans, and global development and South-South Cooperation Fund, and building regional flagship projects.

Commenting on the developments a senior official at the finance ministry, who is involved with the negotiations, told the FE that the government is scrutinising the text of the MoU.

“We have joined the Belt and Road Initiative, so there is no problem in joining the GDI,” he said, pointing out that implementation of the agreement might take a long time.

International relations analyst Ambassador Humayun Kabir says it’s logical that, as a partner of the BRI, Bangladesh will join the GDI.

“But the authorities should be aware of keeping its national interest first in the negotiations as it had done during the BRI,” he notes.

He also feels that as Bangladesh has shown its willingness to work with all the global players by simultaneously supporting the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy and by joining the China-led BRI and the GDI.

As proposed, the Chinese GDI projects will be implemented through the China international Development Cooperation Agency, the development arm of the Chinese government.

The proposed MoU entitled ‘Strengthening development cooperation and promotion of implementation of the global development Initiative’ says global development has come to a critical juncture and developing countries are facing serious challenges in achieving the UN-designated 2030 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

“The global development initiative GDI proposed by President Xi Jinping has entered a new phase of practical cooperation. China and Bangladesh are ready to enhance strategic alignment, expand development cooperation under the framework of the Global Development Initiative and take China-Bangladesh strategic cooperative partnership featuring sincere mutual assistance and lasting friendship to a new level,” the daft deal reads.

The memorandum proposes active expansion of development cooperation under the framework of the GDI.

As proposed in the MoU, the two sides will agree to strengthen communication and coordination jointly implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, push for implementation of outcomes in development cooperation, and carry out more projects to promote economic development and improve people’s livelihood in Bangladesh so as to deliver tangible benefits to the people of both countries.

It focuses eight priority areas, namely, healthcare, disaster prevention and relief, connectivity, climate change and green development, digital economy, poverty reduction, education and active engagement in public in policy dialogue, experience sharing, capacity building, and practical cooperation.

China is willing to provide support within its capability to facilitate the implementation of cooperation projects in the eight areas based on the needs of Bangladesh and explore other potential projects in line with the GDI.

It also aims to establish a consultation mechanism at the director-general or equivalent level and hold regular online or off-line meetings to gently promote coordinated actions in development cooperation and identify and address problems in a timely manner so as to facilitate efficient implementation of projects.

About the tenure of the MoU, the proposal says it shall enter into force upon signature and remain valid for two years.

But unless either party informs the other in writing for the termination within six months before the expiry date, this memorandum shall be extended automatically for another two years, the proposal says, adding that the rule shall prevail for any extension thereafter.

According to the draft, in case of termination the ongoing projects under the memorandum shall not be affected and shall be continued as per the signed financial agreement for each individual project.

Bangladesh and China started talks on GDI participation last year and gained momentum after the visit of the then Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Dhaka in August 2022, foreign ministry officials said.

Last week, Chinese envoy in Dhaka Yao Wen said China is willing to work with Bangladesh to continue exploring cooperation opportunities under the GDI.

The Global Development Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2021, aims to steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth, said Chinese officials.

They said the GDI is another major initiative put forward by China after the Belt and Road Initiative and it is a ‘remobilization’ of world development cooperation and a ‘reaffirmation’ of the people-oriented concept.

According to Chinese media, since its inception one year ago, the GDI has received warm responses from the international community, with more than 100 countries having extended their support to date.

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