China's development offers growth opportunities amid protectionist trend: Bangladeshi expert

After 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has become an economic powerhouse providing a lot of new opportunities through its development initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative which will be of global benefit, a Bangladeshi expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Professor of economics at Dhaka University Selim Raihan, also the executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), a leading think-tank, made the remarks on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up.

"China's economic development, poverty reduction and other areas of achievement over the past few decades have been impressive," said Raihan, also an honorary senior research fellow at the University of Manchester in Britain.

From a very low level of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and high rate of poverty, he said China, over the past few decades, has succeeded in substantially raising its per capita GDP as well as radically reducing the rate of poverty.

These achievements in China have lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty, which has also contributed to the global reduction of poverty over the past few decades, he added.

"China has invested quite a lot in developing its physical and social infrastructure. As part of its physical infrastructural development, China has made significant progress and has witnessed rapid urbanization."

In the case of social infrastructure, especially health and education, China has also made great strides, he said.

"Countries, like Bangladesh, have a lot of things to learn from China such as how China has achieved such rapid economic growth and made significant structural changes to its economy that have seen the contribution of manufacturing to GDP and employment increased substantially," said Raihan.

"Whenever I visit China, I am always impressed at the progress being made and the way the country has developed its infrastructure, achieved greater urbanization, as well as how the quality of human capital, especially in terms of education and health, has improved," he said, adding that the improvements witnessed in China are an inspiration for the ways in which Bangladesh can elevate itself.

Talking about the current protectionist trend, the scholar said it is not beneficial to economic growth and trade expansion at a global level.

"Therefore, it is very important that the countries in Asia, especially the developing countries go for more South-South cooperation and increase trade ... to counter the negative effects," Raihan maintained.

Regarding the Belt and Road Initiative, the expert said it not only talks about trade and investment, but also about connectivity.

"Many of the prospective participating countries can increase their trade and achieve economic growth if connectivity among these countries can be improved. Studies have shown that larger connectivity can benefit trade and investment markedly, especially when it comes to linking with global and regional value chains," Raihan said.

Therefore, the initiative is very important for participating countries in Asia as well as Europe, he added.

With regard to the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) Economic Corridor, he said it will create a great opportunity to connect India and China, two economic giants in Asia, with Bangladesh and Myanmar standing to benefit manifestly.

"This economic corridor has the potential to lead to a large expansion in trade and investment for Bangladesh. Bangladesh can benefit by developing its physical infrastructure, port facilities, as well as different economic zones along the economic corridor, and invite foreign investment to maximize the benefit out of this economic corridor."

Once materialized, according to the economist, poverty reduction in Bangladesh will be significantly achieved and other social developments can be better supported.

Editor: 曹家宁