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.”


India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

Updated 28 May 2020

India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

  • Development follows US President’s mediation in the dispute
  • Stand-off began in the first week of May when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake

NEW DELHI: After weeks of a border stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, New Delhi on Thursday announced it would resolve the matter diplomatically.

“India is engaged with China to peacefully resolve the matter. At the same time we remain firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The development follows US President Donald Trump’s mediation in the dispute. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Trump said, “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute.”

The stand-off began when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake in the first week of May. According to Indian reports, Chinese troops set up dozens of tents on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A few days later, a Chinese patrol was stopped by Indian guards near the Nathula Pass in the Indian state of Sikkim. A troop build-up in the Ladakh and Sikkim areas followed the incidents. Reports suggested that 10,000 Chinese soldiers were sent to the border.

While New Delhi was still blaming China last week for “hindering” Indian patrols at the border, its Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that “the two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels.”

Foreign policy experts say that in the absence of any concrete information it is difficult to comment on whether any resolution is actually taking place.

“The whole region of Ladakh is undefined, there is no agreed LAC, in some areas they respect each other’s position, and in some areas they don’t, which is the crux of the problem,” Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Arab News.

“Geopolitical interests of both countries are at the center of the conflict,” Kondapalli said, “For India Ladakh is linked to its sovereignty. India has so many ongoing projects in that area. For China its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes not far away from the region and connect to the Gwadar port in Pakistan. Besides, once American troops leave Afghanistan and a new regime takes over Kabul this might have its implications in the region.”

Manoj Kewalramani, of the Bangalore-based think tank The Takshashila Institution, said that from a geopolitical perspective both sides need stability at this time and the current situation on the border is not helping either of them.

“Beijing is facing challenges on many fronts, an economic slowdown, tensions with the US, international anger amid the pandemic, protests in Hong Kong, etc.,” he said. “Likewise, New Delhi’s interests lie in managing the COVID-19 outbreak at home and focusing on reviving the economy.”