Bangladesh moves to buy wheat from Russia amid Western sanctions

The Bangladesh government is set to import wheat from Russia while the country is under sanctions from the Western countries due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Published : 23 June 2022, 04:05 PM
Updated : 23 June 2022, 04:05 PM

In parliament on Thursday, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said Bangladesh sent a proposal to Russia, the largest wheat exporter in the world, to buy 200,000 tonnes of the commodity.

The food ministry has already held a meeting with the Russian authorities.

Russia had earlier offered to sell wheat and fuel but Bangladesh declined due to the sanctions, triggered by its military campaign against Ukraine since February, from United States and other Western countries.

Referring to the difficulty of open trade with Russia at the moment, Foreign Minsiter AK Abdul Momen said at that time, “We’re a poor, small country. That is why [the West] seek to control us.”

But Bangladesh moved ahead with the import decision after different countries, including India, did the same.

Food Secretary Md Ismail Hossain said, “We’ve had a fruitful discussion with the Russian authorities on importing wheat… They appeared interested in export.”

Another meeting will be held on Jul 4, he said. “Several additional matters will be finalised then.”

An official at the ministry’s collection and supply section, who asked not to be named, said Bangladesh will pay in dollars for the import.

“We are bound to an MoU [memorandum of understanding] on importing fertiliser and food from Russia. Bangladesh agreed to pay in dollars.”

He said Bangladesh asked Russia to ensure supply within 60 to 90 days. It will be discussed in detail in the next meeting.

Annually, Bangladesh needs 6 to 7 million tonnes of wheat to meet the demands. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, almost 5.3 million tonnes of wheat were imported privately aside from local supplies. In the 11 months of this financial year, Bangladesh imported 2.3 million tonnes of wheat.

The government is struggling to contain soaring commodity prices, with inflation hitting an eight-year high in May, while the country's wheat stocks dropped to their lowest in three years.