Saudi Arabia reportedly set to invest $30bn in Bangladesh

Shehab Sumon: 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.”

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