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Bangladesh to start importing essentials from Russia

MoU likely to be signed on Mar 10
Hasan Arif
03 Mar 2024 21:56:33 | Update: 03 Mar 2024 21:56:33
Bangladesh to start importing essentials from Russia

Bangladesh will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Russia to start importing essential food products from that country on government-to-government (G2G) basis.

The MoU is expected to be signed between Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and JSC Foreign Economic Corporation “Prodintorg” on March 10, TCB sources confirmed.

The high officials of the commerce ministry will hold a meeting today to finalise the MoU.   

TCB Chairman Brig Gen Md Ariful Hassan said, “Both the countries have agreed to sign the MoU. After the agreement, we will select necessary products from the list of products sent by the Russian Federation. After that the officials of both the countries will sit and agree to go to the stage of import.”

Sources said possible products in the list includes yellow peas, chickpeas, red lentils, green lentils, wheat, soybean oil and sunflower oil. Russia is giving importance to fertilisers and fuel oil.

Russia’s state-owned JSC formally made the proposal by sending a letter to the commerce ministry of Bangladesh. It is a subsidiary company under the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia. In the letter, Russia expressed interest in increasing cooperation with Bangladesh. In particular, the country has expressed interest in providing various food products on G2G basis.

According to the letter, they want to take the opportunity to supply these food products at most competitive and inclusive prices.

Bangladesh used to import wheat, sunflower oil and fertilisers from both Russia and Ukraine. But due to the ongoing war between the two countries, imports have almost stopped.

Commerce ministry officials said that the state-owned TCB is providing food products to one crore poor people in the country, including lentils, at subsidised rates.

As a result, TCB has to import lentils. Apart from this, sunflower oil is also in demand in Bangladesh. If these products are available at competitive prices, they can be imported from Russia, they said.

Those concerned say that the products Bangladesh imports from the international market can be taken if there is an opportunity to import them from Russia at lower prices. However, the US has SWIFT sanctions on Russia. Many Russian ships are embargoed by USA. This is also taken into consideration.

Bangladesh has emphasised on quick settlement of the issue of the direct currency exchange system to make import-export transactions with Russia at low cost, fast and easy.

At present, the currency of Bangladesh cannot be directly exchanged with the Russian currency. In this case, the transaction has to be completed through euro or dollar. On the one hand, as the cost is increasing, it also takes more time. In this context, Bangladesh wants to introduce a direct exchange rate to make transactions between the two countries cheaper, faster and easier.

In a report submitted to the commerce ministry on March 14, 2022, the Bangladesh Embassy in Moscow recommended that the government explore the possibility of exporting medicines and potatoes to Russia in exchange for importing essential food items such as wheat and edible oil. This trade can be easily done on G2G basis or through currency swap. Such trade would not require Russia's participation in the international payment system SWIFT.