RIYADH: The deep-rooted relationship between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh is set to scale ever greater heights thanks to enhanced developments in trade and investment.
“We are positive that the bilateral relations will forge ahead under Saudi Vision 2030 in the coming years,” Bangladeshi Ambassador Golam Moshi said on the eve of today’s celebrations for 47th anniversary of his country’s Independence Day.
“Both countries should opt for transformation of their respective economies for the bright future of their peoples. Bangladesh is ready to have a strategic partnership to promote Saudi Vision 2030, which will be beneficial for the people of the two brotherly countries and the Muslim Ummah,” he added, using the Arabic word for community.
“The people of Bangladesh consider King Salman and his government a true and tested friend of Bangladesh, and regard the Kingdom as leader of the Muslim Ummah under his wise leadership.
“We also applaud the visionary role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, for his extraordinary efforts in boosting the Saudi economy, including the formulation of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, under the wise and dynamic leadership of King Salman.”
Moshi said that the UN declaration on March 15 this year that Bangladesh met the criteria for graduating from the status of lower developing country (LDC) to that of developing country was a joyous occasion for all Bangladeshi nationals, at home and abroad. It was achieved, he added, thanks to the visionary leadership of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over the past nine years.
“Under her leadership, Bangladesh followed pragmatic development strategies that resulted in inclusive economic growth, structural transformation and remarkable social progress,” said Moshi.
Bangladesh met all three criteria for graduation from LDC: its per capita gross national income is $1,610, well above the UN’s lower limit of $1,230; the human asset index is 72.9, compared with the UN target of 66 and the economic vulnerability index is 24.8, below the UN’s upper threshold of 32.
As a result, Bangladesh is emerging on the world stage as an important country offering plenty of opportunities for trade and investment.
The ambassador highlighted two recent official visits by Hasina to the Kingdom, first in June 2016 for bilateral talks, then in May 2017 to attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh. “Both visits created a new dimension for our bilateral relations,” said Moshi.
During the 2016 meeting, King Salman described Bangladesh as a leading Islamic country, with respect to the relationship between the nations. He also praised the role played by Bangladesh in maintaining peace and stability as party of UN peace-keeping operations.
Hasina attended the summit in Riyadh the following year to express solidarity with the Kingdom as a member of the Islamic Military Alliance in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
Bangladesh is now a role model for the developing world in poverty reduction, Moshi added, having achieved success in the areas of health and education, in fighting climate change, for which it has a UN accolade, and as a major contributor of UN troops for peacekeeping operations around the world.
“Bangladesh is maintaining a ‘zero tolerance’ policy toward the menace of terrorism and violent extremism in its all forms and manifestations,” said Moshi.
“Bangladesh is now well regarded by international community, with excellent relations with important countries of the world, including Saudi Arabia.”
Both countries increasingly recognize the mutually beneficial potential to expand economic cooperation in a range of areas.
During Hasina’s visit in June 2016, the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a business session featuring leading Saudi and Bangladeshi businessmen.
During the meeting, Hasina called for increased investment and the further exploration of business opportunities in Bangladesh.
She also offered a special economic zone, one of 100 such zones, to Saudi investors. Responding to her call, the economic adviser to the royal court expressed keen interest in investing in “commercially viable projects” in Bangladesh through the Public Investment Fund.
As a follow-up, a 21-member high-level Saudi business delegation visited Bangladesh, led by Moshabab Abdulla Alkahtani, president of International Marketing Investment Company Group, and including representatives from the construction, real estate, agriculture, tourism, and food and beverage sectors.
To further boost relations between the countries, the 12th session of the Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission was held in Riyadh on March 14 and 15 this year.
Participants discussed ways to boost cooperation in manpower and human-resource development, consular affairs, international affairs, customs cooperation, economic cooperation, trade, investment, civil aviation, agriculture, education, health, the service sector, and social and legal affairs. The gathering ended with a commitment to foster bilateral relations.
Coinciding with the joint commission meeting, a joint technical committee on labor issues, including domestic workers, was held in Riyadh this month in the presence of senior officials from the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and Bangladesh’s Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment.
Participants agreed to introduce transparent procedures, provide adequate training for Saudi-bound Bangladeshi workers, and reduce of the cost of migration. The Saudis pledged to make swift arrangements for the repatriation of bodies of deceased Bangladeshis, and properly compensate workers.
Bangladesh, with its winning combination of a competitive market, business-friendly environment and competitive cost structure, has the potential to richly reward investors.
“It is an ideal destination for Saudi entrepreneurs as it has a very dynamic, young, talented Muslim population (almost 90 percent of population is Muslim) with attractive incentives,” said Moshi.
“Potential investors might explore the enormous potential in investment opportunities in different sectors, such as tourism, IT, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, et cetera in Bangladesh.”
He added that Saudi Arabia recently opened up investment opportunities for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, who can invest solely or with Saudi partners in joint-venture projects in many sectors, including aquaculture and fisheries, construction, human-resources training, and tourism.
Moshi also pointed out that the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority had expressed his willingness to support Bangladeshi investors in the Kingdom.
He said his country had taken the pragmatic measure of building a new embassy building in Riyadh and the existing mission would move there this year.
Bangladesh’s Vision 2021, to become a middle-income country, and Vision 2041, to attain the status of developed country, warrants working closely with the Kingdom to foster fast-growing cooperation in all areas, particularly in trade and investment, the ambassador said.