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Bangladesh eyes $50b Saudi investment

Both countries will sit together next week to discuss issues such as prioritising projects and other critical bottlenecks



Bangladesh is expecting up to $50 billion worth of investments from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, but officials are unsure when the investments will materialise.

Both countries will sit together next week to discuss issues such as prioritising the projects and other critical bottlenecks.

"We will make a presentation to the Saudi delegate on potential investment areas in Bangladesh," Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), told The Business Standard yesterday.     

Riyadh has asked for data and information on prevailing investment and commercial opportunities in the private sector, and procedures and capital protection in Bangladesh for Saudi investors.

Saudi company AL-Bawani and its partners want 1,000 hectares of land where they will develop infrastructure to attract industries and foreign investment. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed in this regard.

A Saudi delegation headed by Commerce and Investment Affair Minister Dr Majid bin Al Qasabi and Finance and Planning Minister Mohammad bin Majyad Altuajari visited Bangladesh in April last year when they agreed to fund $35b in eight projects.

The projects include the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar railway link, Dhaka-Barishal-Payra Port railway link, setting up an oil refinery and petro-chemical storage facility, aircraft maintenance and repair facilities at Lalmonirhat Airport, DAP (DI-ammonium Phosphate) industry, an investment support fund and portfolio investment fund, and upgrading services of state-owned mobile operator Teletalk.

Officials said all concept papers of the projects, except for the DAP industry, have been sent to Saudi Arabia for consideration.

In May 2019, the Bangladesh government sent another proposal for five priority projects for consideration by the Saudi government.

Mohammad Shamsul Alam, additional secretary to the Economic Relations Division, told The Business Standard, "Several issues, including visa, trading, manpower, investment in various sectors such as power, energy, railway, aviation, telecommunication, and public-private partnership, and cooperation in health, education and family welfare will be discussed in the meeting."

The Bangladesh Power Development Board has signed an agreement with ACWA Power and Aramco of Saudi Arabia for the installation of a 3,600 MW LNG-based power plant.

Saudi state-owned energy company Aramco plans to supply liquefied natural gas to Bangladesh as part of a tentative $3 billion deal signed in October 2019.

The power plant and an onshore LNG regasification terminal would be built in the Moheshkhali area of Cox's Bazar, or at an alternative location.

ERD officials say that the leading Saudi construction and manufacturing conglomerate Alfanar Group has agreed to provide $100 million worth of financing for an upcoming solar-power project in Bangladesh.

Riyadh-based Alfanar has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry at a business meeting in Dhaka. 

Additionally, both sides will discuss the formation of a joint committee to work on formulating and signing a general agreement on overall manpower issues. 



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