Saudi Arabia reportedly set to invest $30bn in Bangladesh

Leading Saudi Arabian companies are looking to invest in Bangladesh. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 February 2020

Saudi Arabia reportedly set to invest $30bn in Bangladesh

  • Saudi delegation led by Deputy Minister for International Affairs Mahir Al-Gassin and including representatives from seven of the Kingdom’s largest conglomerates
  • BIDA’s Mohammad Sirazul Islam: We are very keen to have Saudi investors here in Bangladesh because they have huge investment capacity

DHAKA: Some of Saudi Arabia’s top companies are looking to invest around $30 billion in a number of Bangladesh’s business sectors, according to Bangladeshi officials.

On the first day of a two-day Joint Economic Council meeting, a 40-member Saudi delegation — led by Deputy Minister for International Affairs Mahir Al-Gassin and including representatives from seven of the Kingdom’s largest conglomerates: Saudi Aramco, ACWA Power, Honey and Health, Engineering Dimension Com, Aljomaih Energy and Water Company,

Albwani Water and Power, and the Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT) — and a Bangladeshi side led by Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Monowar Ahmed held six technical talks in Dhaka on Wednesday. 

Faisal Zahur, senior assistant chief of ERD’s Middle East wing, told Arab News that the Saudi delegation was analyzing a draft agreement that would be ready to sign on Thursday.

“The JEC meeting was heavily dominated by investment issues mainly in the power and energy sector of Bangladesh. We have prepared a draft agreement which will be inked on Thursday by both sides,” he said, adding that other matters pertaining to the welfare of Bangladeshi workers in the Kingdom were also discussed.

“The Saudi authorities were asked to resolve passport issues for Bangladeshi migrants who are facing trouble in the Kingdom due to expired passports,” Zahur said, adding that while investments worth $30 billion were on the charts, the amount could be more. 

“Saudi investors are ready to invest any amount in Bangladesh but it depends on how much the country can consume,” he said.

Mohammad Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is an ideal partner.

“We are very keen to have Saudi investors here in Bangladesh because they have huge investment capacity. Our focus is to bring in large investors who will invest several hundred million or billion (dollars),” he said.

Islam added that both government-to-business and business-to-business investments had been discussed on Wednesday, with most of the investment in the private sector tilting towards joint ventures.

“Engineering Dimensions, a giant transformer producer in the Kingdom, has already started a joint venture with a Bangladeshi state-owned company,” he said. “Now, discussions are underway about tax benefits and other relevant issues, which are expected to be settled very soon.”


Russia rules out military pact with Philippines

Updated 28 min 41 sec ago

Russia rules out military pact with Philippines

  • Russia seeks ‘equal partnership’ after Duterte scraps US troops deal

MANILA: Russia has ruled out the possibility of a military alliance with the Philippines despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to end a major defense pact with the US.

Instead, Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev said on Monday that Moscow’s aim was to build a “robust, equal partnership” with Manila.

“The goal of our common work here is not trying to contain someone or to create some sort of alliance,” he told senior Philippine defense officials and diplomats at a reception for Russian Armed Forces Day.

Early in February, the Duterte administration announced it would end a visiting forces agreement signed with Washington in 1998 that sets the terms for joint exercises with US troops in the Philippines.

According to Khovaev, Russia has no interest in further military alliances because “they provide security for a selected few member states at the expense of others.”

“The Russian Federation proceeds from the premise that security has to be indivisible. This is why we are not in the habit of entering into alliances,” he said.

“Equal partnerships” are necessary for stability and prosperity in the region, he added.

Asked if this ruled out a Russia-Philippines alliance similar to that between Manila and Washington, Khovaev said: “Yes. Our aim is to build a strong, robust partnership, not a military alliance. We have no military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region,” he told Arab News.

He also reiterated the importance of military cooperation between Russia and the Philippines, which was highlighted by President Vladimir Putin and Duterte during their meetings in Moscow in May 2017 and in Sochi in October 2019.

The two nations have organized joint military exercises, and the exchange of visits by Russian and Philippine navy ships in Manila and Vladivostok.

“But to tell you the truth, the full potential of our cooperation has yet to be explored,” Khovaev said. “It is indispensable because we have common threats and challenges, including terrorism, international drug trafficking, piracy and other kinds of transnational crime that we need to overcome together.”