China's recovery creates opportunities for higher cooperation with Bangladesh
China ended 2020 on solid footing as the country is set to become the only major economy to post expansion in a year ravaged by the pandemic. China's gross domestic product (GDP) beat expectations with a 6.5 per cent growth in the fourth quarter (Q4), according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The Chinese GDP expanded 2.3 per cent year on year in 2020, exceeding a 100 trillion yuan (US$15.42 trillion) for the first time.
The recovery trend, from a 6.8-percent contraction in Q1 to three consecutive quarters of rebound (3.2 per cent in Q2, 4.9 per cent in Q3 and 6.5 per cent in Q4), will extend into 2021 as the economy has the foundation and conditions to sustain the momentum.
China's industrial sector, being the first to shake off the virus impacts, continued to power ahead, suggests a breakdown of the data. The value-added industrial output surged 7.1 per cent year on year in Q4, accelerating by 1.3 percentage points from Q3 last year. For the whole year, the indicator went up 2.8 per cent year on year.
The fixed asset investment saw a steady recovery, climbing 2.9 per cent year on year in 2020, with investment in high-tech industries, healthcare and education outperforming the average.
One of the hardest-hit by the pandemic, China's retail sales of consumer goods have gradually picked up. Despite a 3.9 per cent fall for the whole year, the key barometer of consumption went up 4.6 per cent in Q4, nearing the sector's pre-epidemic levels.
China's job market remained stable in 2020, with the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas standing at 5.6 per cent, below the government's annual target of around 6.0 per cent, the data showed.
China has taken resolute and swift actions to contain the virus spread, creating conditions for the "V-shaped" economic rebound, which gathered steam following a raft of government measures including more fiscal spending, tax relief, and cuts in lending rates and banks' reserve requirements. Earlier this year, the World Bank Group said that it expected China's economy to expand by 7.9 per cent in 2021, while the global economy is on track to grow by 4.0 per cent.
At a time when the rest of the world is still grappling with rising Covid-19 cases and economic recession, China's hard-won economic rebound will provide inspiration and experience for global economic recovery in the new year.
As Bangladesh entered these difficult times on a much stronger footing compared to many of its peers thanks to low external debt, low overall public debt and comfortable debt service capability in view of its healthy foreign exchange reserve, there are immense opportunities to grow business and pursue further win-win cooperation between China and Bangladesh.
The first opportunity is China's huge market. With a population of 1.4 billion, including a middle-income group of over 400 million, China has a huge market with the greatest potential in the world. In the coming 10 years, it is expected to import goods worth over $22 trillion.
China is the first country in the world to achieve economic recovery amid the pandemic. It will be a major powerhouse for global growth in the post-pandemic era. It will create enormous cooperation opportunities and development space for businesses of all countries. Going forward, Chinese and Bangladesh businesses can seize the opportunities of platforms such as CIIE, the China International Fair for Trade in Services and the China Import and Export Fair to expand trade and economic cooperation. Working together, the business communities could contribute to recovery and growth of both the economies and bring more benefits to our peoples.
The second opportunity is China-Bangladesh open and win-win cooperation. In building the "dual circulation" development paradigm, China is committed to opening up at a higher level on all fronts. This will enable better connection and sharing of production factors and resources between the domestic and international markets in a more efficient way.
Bangladesh offers generous opportunities for foreign investment under its liberalised Industrial Policy and export-oriented, private sector-led growth strategy. With the increasingly improved business environment, China and Bangladesh could continue to strengthen development strategy coordination and fully exploit the potential of cooperation in various fields, such as infrastructure, currency, energy, transportation, agriculture, 5G communications, high-speed railway, aerospace, and blue economy.
China and Bangladesh can actively explore the possibility of signing a free trade agreement to further support more movements of goods and production factors between our two countries.
The third opportunity is to build better global governance by joining hands. China will actively build partnerships with countries of the world, remain committed to multilateralism and the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and take an active part in the reform and development of the global governance system. China will uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core, uphold the international order based on international law and uphold the multilateral trade system with the WTO at its centre.
China will also take an active part in international cooperation on the prevention and control of major infectious diseases, and advance the building of a global community of health for all. Bangladesh is always playing an important role in building global governance system. China and Bangladesh can join hands to be defenders of world peace, contributors to global development, and upholders of international order.
To build and develop strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Bangladesh is the common cause of our two countries. China will, as always, do its utmost to strengthen China-Bangladesh friendship and solidarity and intensify all-round cooperation between us. At the moment, both our countries are at a new, important development stage. I sincerely hope we can seize these opportunities to contribute to the continuous progress and deepen a win-win partnership between China and Bangladesh.
(Liu Zhenhua is the Commercial Counsellor of Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh.)