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Bangladesh, China Poised to Sign 20 MoUs During PM Sheikh Hasina’s Visit

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During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s official visit to China, which begins on Monday, Bangladesh and China are expected to sign around 20 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and announce several development projects. This information was disclosed by Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud at a media briefing on Sunday.

“Bangladesh will seek China’s assistance in investment, trade, financial support, and the repatriation of Rohingyas. Simultaneously, Bangladesh will continue to support China as a friend on the global stage,” stated Mahmud, expressing optimism about the visit’s success.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen confirmed that multiple cooperation documents and MoUs would be signed in various fields, including infrastructure, free trade agreements, agricultural exports, development in southern Bangladesh, digital economy, disaster prevention, poverty alleviation, clean energy, healthcare, education, and cultural exchanges.

At the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit aims to “outline a new blueprint for practical cooperation” and coordinate the two countries’ positions on regional and international issues. Ambassador Yao described the visit as a milestone in bilateral relations, expected to bring significant benefits to both nations.

This visit marks Prime Minister Hasina’s first trip to China since her new term began and comes five years after her last visit. During her stay, she will meet with President Xi Jinping and attend a welcoming ceremony hosted by Premier Li Qiang. The two leaders will hold discussions and attend a signing ceremony for various cooperation documents.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning highlighted the visit’s importance, noting that leaders from both countries would engage in-depth on deepening traditional friendship, expanding mutually beneficial cooperation, and addressing regional and international issues of mutual interest. Prime Minister Hasina will also participate in the Summit on Trade, Business, and Investment Opportunities between China and Bangladesh.

Reflecting on the 49 years of diplomatic relations, the Spokesperson praised the countries’ mutual respect, equality, and cooperation, setting an example of friendship between developing nations. With strategic guidance from their leaders, Bangladesh and China have fostered a deep strategic cooperative partnership.

“China is ready to work with Bangladesh to carry forward the spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, deepen political mutual trust, align development strategies, and advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation,” said the Spokesperson, emphasizing a commitment to elevating bilateral relations to a new level.

The visit is seen as an opportunity to strengthen political mutual trust, consolidate traditional friendship, and synergize development strategies, furthering the realization of China’s National Rejuvenation and Bangladesh’s “Vision 2041.”

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UK inflation holds at 2% in June: official data

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Britain’s inflation rate held steady in June after returning to the Bank of England’s target the previous month, official data showed Wednesday, confounding expectations for another modest slowdown.

The Consumer Prices Index was unchanged at 2.0 percent in June from the same level in May, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement, compared with market forecasts of 1.9 percent.

“Hotel prices rose strongly, while second-hand car costs fell but by less than this time last year,” said ONS chief executive Grant Fitzner.
“However, these were offset by falling clothing prices, with widespread sales driving down their cost.

“Meanwhile, the cost of both raw materials and goods leaving factories fell on the month, though factory gate prices remain above where they were a year ago.”

Analysts said the data could cause the Bank of England to sit tight for a while longer before starting to cut interest rates.

“The chances of an interest rate cut in August have diminished a bit more,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at research consultancy Capital Economics.

Last month, the BoE kept its key interest rate at a 16-year high of 5.25 percent, despite slowing inflation in May.

Britain’s newly elected Labour government welcomed news that inflation remained at the BoE’s target level.

“It is welcome that inflation is at target,” said Darren Jones, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in a statement.

“But we know that for families across Britain prices remain high… (which) is why this government is taking the tough decisions now to fix the foundations” of the UK economy, he said.

Labour, led by new Prime Minister Keir Starmer, has pledged immediate action to grow the economy after the centre-left party won a landslide general election victory to end 14 years of Conservative rule.

Later on Wednesday, King Charles III will read out Labour’s first programme for government in a decade and a half, when the UK parliament formally reopens following the July 4 election.
Elevated interest rates have worsened a UK cost-of-living squeeze because they increase borrowing repayments, thereby cutting disposable incomes and crimping economic activity.

The BoE began a series of rate hikes in late 2021 to combat inflation, which rose after countries emerged from Covid lockdowns and accelerated after the invasion of Ukraine by key oil and gas producer Russia.

 

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China’s economy grew less than expected in second quarter: official data

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China’s economy grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, official data showed Monday, less than analysts had expected.

“By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter increased by 5.3 percent year on year and for the second quarter 4.7 percent,” Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.

The figures were much lower than the 5.1 percent predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales — a key gauge of consumption — also slowed to just two percent in June, the NBS said, down from 3.7 percent in May.

The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a real estate debt crisis, weakening consumption, an ageing population and trade tensions with Western rivals.

Top officials are meeting in Beijing on Monday for a key plenum, with all eyes on how they might kickstart lacklustre growth.

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Concerns Mount Over Revenue Loss as South Asia’s Largest Land Port Curtails Operations

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Bangladeshi officials are grappling with fears of revenue loss as the largest land port in South Asia, situated along the India-Bangladesh border, has ceased operations for 10 hours each day since July 11.

The Petrapole Land Port in India, crucial for trade between the two nations, has been shutting down from 6 PM to 8 AM daily, without providing any explanation for the closure, according to officials from the Benapole Land Authority in Bangladesh. This unexpected halt has left Bangladeshi authorities and traders in a state of uncertainty, as there is no indication of when the operations might resume to normalcy.

Industry insiders warn that this disruption could lead to a significant revenue shortfall at Benapole port due to decreased imports, adversely affecting Bangladeshi importers with delayed product deliveries.

Rezaul Karim, Director of Traffic at Benapole Land Port Authority, emphasized that while Benapole has been maintaining 24-hour operations, Petrapole’s recent restrictions are hindering cargo truck movements after evening.

“We have inquired with the Petrapole port authority about the reasons for halting trade services after evening. They responded that the matter is under discussion with relevant authorities,” Karim said.

Sultan Mahmud Bipul, Secretary of Benapole C&F Agent Association International Checkpost Affairs, highlighted the fiscal implications of this disruption. “Benapole port has set a revenue target of Tk6,705 crore from imported goods for the fiscal year 2024-25. If the 24-hour import facility remains discontinued, it will severely impact our revenue targets,” he noted.

Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary of Benapole Landport Importers and Exporters Association, pointed out the severe impact on trade, particularly with perishable goods. “Traders dealing with perishable food products are incurring the biggest losses due to this halt. The inability of goods trucks to enter after evening will widen the trade deficit,” Rahman remarked.

As the situation unfolds, the Benapole Land Port Authority and associated trade bodies continue to seek clarity and resolution from their Indian counterparts to mitigate the economic repercussions of this operational disruption.

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