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The status of BRI projects in Bangladesh

Download the report: Link Here is a table of the year-on-year trade statistics of Bangladesh with China from 2017 to 2022: Year Bangladesh’s Import from China Bangladesh’s Export to China Balance of Payment 2017 $11.06 billion $1.01 billion -$10.05 billion 2018 $12.22 billion $1.09 billion -$11.13 billion 2019 $13.22 billion $1.14 billion -$12.08 billion 2020 $13.31 billion $1.17 billion -$12.14 billion 2021 $15.88 billion $1.32 billion -$14.56 billion 2022 $18.5 billion $1.46 billion -$17.04 billion Trade statistics of Bangladesh with China from 2017 to 2022 As you can see, Bangladesh has a long history of having a trade imbalance with China. Accordingly, Bangladesh is importing more commodities from China than it is sending back to that country. As a result of recent growth, the trade imbalance has reached a record high of $17.04 billion in 2022. The Bangladeshi economy is suffering as a result of the trade deficit. In addition to slowing economic development, it is causing job losses and a drop in investment. According to a Dhaka-based report headlined, ‘Bangladesh Reassesses its BRI Strategy as the US Offers a New Alternative,’ the initial excitement in Bangladesh for BRI projects appears to have faded. In 2016, China proposed investing over USD 40 billion in infrastructure assistance and joint sector projects, as well as an additional USD 20 billion in development loans. However, by 2022, Dhaka was confronting the problem of growing foreign debt, owing over USD 4 billion to Beijing. Bangladesh had to request a USD 4.5 million rescue package from the International Monetary Fund in July 2022, as diminishing foreign exchange reserves made imports problematic. To alleviate the problem, Bangladesh has already abandoned or postponed many BRI infrastructure projects, including highway construction. List of the projects that have suffered cost overruns: Padma Bridge Completed Environment Damage, Cost Overrun, FundingIssues, FalseClaim The Padma Bridge is a major infrastructure project in Bangladesh, and while it is not directly under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it has received financial and technical assistance from multiple international sources, including the World Bank. The Padma Bridge is a multipurpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River in Bangladesh. It is the longest bridge in Bangladesh and the sixth-longest in the world. The bridge is being constructed by the China Major Bridge Engineering Company (MBEC). In 2012, the World Bank withdrew its funding for the bridge after allegations of corruption. However, the Bangladesh government decided to self-finance the project and work continued. The Padma Bridge was embroiled in controversy over “BRI or not BRI” as well as delays, funding difficulties, worries about environmental effects, and the relocation of local populations. China has attempted to include non-BRI projects under BRI over the years in an effort to salvage its reputation due to delays, financial losses, and other issues. Padma Bridge is a glaring example of one such project. It has faced a number of issues over the years: Land acquisition: The Padma Bridge is being built on land that is home to a number of villages. The government has had to acquire land from these villages in order to build the bridge. This has led to protests and demonstrations from the villagers. Security concerns: The Padma River is a major shipping route and is home to a number of pirates. The government has had to take steps to secure the area around the bridge in order to prevent attacks from pirates. Cost overruns: The cost of the Padma Bridge has increased significantly since it was first proposed. Since it was initially suggested, the price of the Padma Bridge has greatly escalated.  For a developing nation like Bangladesh, an overrun of $1.3 billion on a $3.3 billion project is a significant burden. There have been a number of protests, demonstrations, and uproars against the Padma Bridge. These protests have been organized by a number of different groups, including environmental groups, villagers, and opposition political parties. In a sharp rebuttal to Chinese claims of Bangladesh’s biggest infrastructure project being part of BRI, Dhaka said that the Padma Bridge, which is scheduled to be launched on June 25, is not a part of China’s BRI. It also said that no foreign funds were taken to complete this multipurpose project. Check out our report: Padma Bridge is not a part of BRI Payra Deep Sea Port Cost Overrun, FundingIssues, China’s geopolitical interests, Corruption Delayed The government of Bangladesh and China signed MoU to develop three components of the Payra Deep Seaport in 2016. This is the third-largest port in the country, strategically located in the Patuakhali region on the banks of the Bay of Bengal. Two Chinese companies China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) and China State Engineering and Construction Company (CSCEC) will execute port development. The Payra Deep Sea Port has been plagued by financial problems since its inception. The original cost of the project was estimated to be $1.1 billion, but the final cost is expected to be much higher. The government of Bangladesh has had to borrow money from China to finance the construction of the port, and the debt burden is becoming increasingly unsustainable. In addition to the financial problems, the Payra Deep Sea Port has also been plagued by corruption allegations. The  Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a case against several officials of the Bangladesh government and the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) for allegedly misusing public funds in the construction of the port. The ACC has also filed a case against several officials of the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) for allegedly awarding the contract for the construction of the port to CHEC without following due process. The delays in the construction of the Payra Deep Sea Port have been caused by a number of factors, including financial problems, corruption allegations, and environmental concerns. The construction of the port was initially scheduled to be completed in 2016, but the deadline has been pushed back several times. The port is now expected to be completed in 2023, but it is possible that the deadline will be pushed back again….

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