The Financial Express

Trade with China and mega projects won't be affected

Says Chinese envoy

FE REPORT | Published: February 13, 2020 10:28:41 | Updated: February 14, 2020 18:06:53

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming (centre) addressing a meet the press programme on 'Novel Coronavirus' at the National Press Club on Wednesday — FE Photo Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming (centre) addressing a meet the press programme on 'Novel Coronavirus' at the National Press Club on Wednesday — FE Photo

Bilateral trade with China and implementation of mega projects will not face any major hurdles if Bangladesh responds rationally to the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said on Wednesday.

"We hope people from all walks of life in Bangladesh will not panic but calmly and rationally evaluate the risk," he said.

People in China are now getting back to work after celebrating the Chinese New Year, he said, adding that the epidemic is mostly concentrated in Wuhan, which is not a significant centre for trade.

Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronovirus, is the capital of Chinese Hubei province.

"Most of the raw materials used in Bangladesh's textile and garments industries, spare parts and medical equipment are imported from different provinces of China, not from Wuhan," said Mr Jiming.

The ambassador made the remarks at 'Meet the Press' jointly organised by the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka and the Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCCI) at the National Press Club in the city.

Responding to a query regarding Bangladesh business community's concerns about whether they should switch to other destinations from China for the supply chain, the ambassador said moving to other sources would be a wrong decision.

"The answer from me is definitely 'No'. This is a going to be a stupid decision if you really do so," he said, adding that Chinese people are now getting back to work.

He, however, said the decline in bilateral trade in the recent times was mainly due to countrywide Chinese New Year holidays.

Regarding the mega projects' implementation in Bangladesh, he said key Chinese people involved in the activities have already come back to Bangladesh.

Urging Bangladesh to act rationally, he said: "We are a bit worried about some restriction measures the government might impose on imported equipment and so on."

The goods don't carry virus, but people may, the ambassador said, adding that all measures related to restrictions should be based on evidence and science, not on panic.

If Bangladesh doesn't act rationally, it may face serious problems with the mega projects, he said.

"I think Bangladeshi government is wise and rational in decision-making," he added.

He also said the Chinese government is tackling the epidemic with great capacity, full confidence, determination and high commitment.

Chinese embassy's Commercial Counselor Liu Zhenhua, BCCCI president Gazi Golam Murtoza and its Secretary General Shahjahan Mridha attended the event.

In his speech, Gazi Golam Murtoza expressed the hope that China would soon recover from the economic slowdown caused by the epidemic, as the nation had earlier faced similar problem in 2003.

"China successfully recovered from SARS epidemic in 2003, when a major blow to the East Asian nation's economy was feared," he said.

Mr Murtoza said the recent times saw a decline in bilateral trade, as Bangladeshi businesses brought in their imports prior to the beginning of the Chinese holiday.

"Still, there is no reason for supply shortage in local market due to the virus," he said.

Time will say what happens in future if the epidemic prolongs, the BCCCI leader added.


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