Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Bangladesh expects $15bn in Saudi investments

  • Senior Correspondent bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-03-06 17:49:23 BdST


A 34-strong delegation of Saudi Arabia led by two ministers is coming to Dhaka in a first-ever visit of Bangladesh’s history to invest in a wide range of sectors from energy to health to aviation.

Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), said the government is expecting $15 billion to $20 billion in investments from the kingdom in at least 16 different projects.

“This will be finalised during the meeting with the delegation on Thursday in Dhaka,” Islam said in a press briefing on Wednesday, accompanied by Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Golam Moshi.

The ambassador said this will be the biggest ever delegation of Saudi Arabia in the history of Bangladesh. “Thirty years back they made a small investment in the Islami Bank.”

Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi and Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed bin Mezyed Altwaijri will lead the delegation that will arrive in Dhaka Wednesday night by their special aircraft.

Half of the members of the delegation are from private sector companies such as Aramco, one of the world’s biggest oil companies.

The delegation also includes officials representing Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund which is worth a quarter of a trillion US dollars and headed by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

They will also join a dialogue on investment and trade cooperation with representatives of Bangladeshi ministries and state-owned enterprises at Dhaka’s Intercontinental Hotel.

Saudi Arabia is signing investment deals in South Asian countries marked by the Crown Prince’s visits to Pakistan, India and China.

The ambassador said their investments in the US and Europe have reached its peak.

“Now they are looking to the East and Bangladesh is a perfect destination for that.”

Bangladesh is expecting investments in energy sector, oil refinery storage, electrical equipment, solar, health, and aircraft maintenance and repair, among others.

“Our focus in bilateral relations is now on both employment generation and investment,” said the ambassador citing the two million Bangladeshis working in the kingdom, 20,000 more travelling there for work every month.

Bangladesh’s relations with Saudi Arabia took a new turn in the last three-and-a-half years during which, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made four official state visits.

Both countries also signed a defence cooperation deal in which Bangladesh will help Saudi Arabia in their efforts to clear landmines along the Yemen border.

The BIDA chief said that relations would scale a “new height” with the arrival of the large Saudi delegation.

He did not reveal the details of the deals which will be signed on Thursday as talks are still ongoing.

On the health sector, the ambassador said that two Saudi companies are coming with the delegation.

They will invest in the biomedical technology sector. They will train Bangladeshi technicians in Mymensingh and Jamalpur and recruit them in Saudi Arabia and other middle-eastern countries.

“They recruit biomedical technicians from across the world. Each year they will train 4,000 Bangladeshi technicians and certify them for jobs in the middle-east and Saudi Arabia.”.

They will invest in the aviation industry for maintenance, repair and services.

“We need service support for our aircrafts. We usually send them to other countries for maintenance work. But the prime minister wanted this done in our own country and that’s why we made this proposal.

“An international standard service facility for aircrafts will be built in Lalmonirhat. Other countries will be able to send their aircrafts to us for servicing,” the ambassador said, adding that the scale of investment in this sector may range from $500 million to $1 billion.

The $100 million solar project will be installed in the Feni district.

“The focus of the current government is to achieve development across Bangladesh. So we are taking investments in every district of the country,” the BIDA chief said.

“We are hoping that the economic strength of Saudi Arabia and the economic potential of Bangladesh will take our relationship to the next level for the benefit of the people of the brotherly countries,” he said in a written statement.