Saudi terminal operator RSGT to invest in Bangladesh’s port sector

International ships anchored at Chottogram port waiting to deliver the containers. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 23 August 2019
0

Saudi terminal operator RSGT to invest in Bangladesh’s port sector

  • The RSGT recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh’s shipping ministry to support the sector

DHAKA, Bangladesh: The Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT), a leading Saudi terminal operator, is keen to invest in Bangladesh’s port development sector.

The RSGT recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh’s shipping ministry to support the sector.

Gagan Seksaria, director of global investments at the RSGT and Abdus Samad, secretary to Bangladesh’s shipping ministry, signed the MoU on behalf of the concerned parties.

According to the MoU, the RSGT will invest in the bay terminal development at Chattogram Port, which handles nearly 80 percent of the country’s maritime trade activity. Last year, the port handled around 3  million 20-feet equivalent units and about 3,700 vessel calls.

The RSGT also expressed an interest in developing new container services at the inland container depot at Pubail, in the Gazipur district of Dhaka, and the infrastructure and technical expertise for two other ports: Mongla and Payra.

“We signed a nonbinding MoU with the RSGT. It covered the broader perspective of future investment and cooperation areas,” said Rafiq Ahmed Siddiky, a joint secretary at Bangladesh’s shipping ministry. 

“Both parties will now work intensively to pinpoint the investment areas. The project will be on a public-private partnerships basis,” he added. 

The RSGT will now share its detailed proposal with Dhaka. 

According to sources in the shipping ministry, Bangladesh is keen to expand its port capacity as the economy grows. The Cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the development proposal during its meeting last month.

However, it will take a few months for the parties to finalize the working purview.

“The RSGT proposal may involve an investment upwards of $3.5 billion (SR13 billion) as the port development is a huge and complex task. We can expect to finalize the formalities by the end of this year,” Kazi Aminul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority told Arab News. 

He added that there are other international companies considering investment.

“We have developed our road infrastructure and expanded connectivity across the country in line with rising trade volume. Now we need to increase the capacity of the ports,” Islam said.


South Korea downgrades Japan trade status as dispute deepens

Updated 18 September 2019

South Korea downgrades Japan trade status as dispute deepens

  • The change comes a week after South Korea initiated a complaint to the World Trade Organization
  • The new measures in effect mean it might take up to 15 days for South Korean companies to gain approvals to export sensitive materials to Japan

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea on Wednesday dropped Japan from a list of countries receiving fast-track approvals in trade, a reaction to Tokyo’s decision to downgrade Seoul’s trade status amid a tense diplomatic dispute.
South Korea’ trade ministry said Japan’s removal from a 29-member “white list” of nations enjoying minimum trade restrictions went into effect as Seoul rearranged its export control system covering hundreds of sensitive materials that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.
The change comes a week after South Korea initiated a complaint to the World Trade Organization over a separate Japanese move to tighten export controls on key chemicals South Korean companies use to manufacture semiconductors and displays.
Seoul has accused Tokyo of weaponizing trade to retaliate against South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese companies to offer reparations to South Koreans forced into labor during World War II. Tokyo’s measures struck a nerve in South Korea, where many still resent Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.
According to South Korean trade ministry, the new measures in effect mean it might take up to 15 days for South Korean companies to gain approvals to export sensitive materials to Japan, compared to the five days or less it took under a simpler inspection process provided for favored trade partners.
Lee Ho-hyeon, a South Korean trade ministry official, said the change would affect about 100 local firms that export items such as telecommunications security equipment, semiconductor materials and chemical products to Japan. He said Seoul will work to minimize disruption to South Korean companies.
Japan for decades has enjoyed a huge trade surplus with South Korea, an economy that’s much more dependent on exports. Many major manufacturers heavily rely on parts and materials imported from Japan.
But the dispute is taking a toll. Exports to South Korea from Japan fell 9.4% last month, Japan’s Finance Ministry reported Wednesday.
The trade dispute between the neighbors erupted in July, when Japan imposed tighter export controls on three chemicals South Korean companies use to produce semiconductors and displays for smartphones and TVs, major export items for South Korea. It cited unspecified security concerns over Seoul’s export controls.
A few weeks later, Japan dropped South Korea from its own trade “white list,” triggered a full-blown diplomatic dispute that took relations between the US allies to their worst in decades.
The dispute has spilled over to security issues, with Seoul declaring it plans to terminate a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan that symbolized the countries’ three-way security cooperation with the United States in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s growing influence.
Following an angry reaction from Washington, Seoul later said it could reconsider its decision to end the military agreement, which remains in effect until November, if Japan relists South Korea as a favored trade partner.
Seoul announced its plans to downgrade Tokyo’s trade status in August before holding a 20-day period to gather opinions on the decision, during which the Japanese government voiced opposition to the move it described as “arbitrary and retaliatory,” Lee said.
He said Seoul needs to strengthen controls on shipments to a country that’s “hard to cooperate with” and fails to uphold “basic international principles” while managing export controls on sensitive materials.
South Korea previously divided its trade partners into two groups in managing export controls on sensitive materials. Following Wednesday’s change, South Korea now has an in-between bracket where it placed only Japan, which would mostly receive the same treatment in trade as the non-favored nations in what had been the second group.