Bangladesh has requested support from Saudi Arabia to tackle the country’s ongoing dollar crisis.
“We get 45 days to pay for fuel imports from Saudi. But, due to the dollar situation, we told them that it would be good for us if they could give us a year," Salman F Rahman, the private industry and investment advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said following his return from a three-day trip to the kingdom.
"They [Saudi] said they will consider the matter,” he added.
Energy giant Chevron wants to invest more in Bibiyana, a major gas field in Bangladesh, Salman said.
“They believe there is gas there, but they cannot be sure until they drill. As such, we want more investment there. They are also interested in searching for oil and gas in the deep sea. The fuel sector is essential for our economic development.”
The advisor to the prime minister also said that Saudi investors had shown interest in the special economic zone Bangladesh was setting up in Payra.
“We want to offer Saudi Arabia a special economic zone in Bangladesh. Their minister of investment expressed interest in setting up an economic zone at Payra.”
Highlighting a plan to set up a urea fertiliser factory in Saudi Arabia jointly owned by the two countries, Salman said the initiative is part of efforts to provide an uninterrupted supply of fertiliser to increase agricultural production in the country.
“We will set up a urea fertiliser plant in Saudi in a joint venture. We will import all of the urea procuded there. They want to go ahead with the proposal. The feasibility study will be completed by March. This isn’t just government-to-government, there is an opportunity for the private sector to join in as well."
During the visit, Salman also participated in the meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), a military alliance comprising 41 countries of the Muslim world.
Commenting that there was 'consensus on some issues' at the meeting, he said, "Our position is against terrorism in the name of Islam. Terrorism is terrorism. Terrorists have no religion. They do these things to defame Islam. Everyone agreed to accelerate the cooperation between Islamic countries through this organisation.”
"Everyone strongly condemned what is happening in Palestine and Gaza, and called for a solution to the problem. They will also work to solve the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh."
Salman said Saudi Arabia is also interested in investing in Bangladesh to shore up the kingdom's food stocks.
“Basically they will produce vegetables, fish or any other foodstuff in Bangladesh, and send it to their country. They will conduct a feasibility study to see in which areas they will be able to invest in Bangladesh. There was also a discussion about the production of long grade rice by joint research from rice research institutes of Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia."
Salman joined the IMCTC meeting as a representative of Bangladesh Defence Minister and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The second meeting of the defence ministers of the member countries was held on the issue of coordinating to prevent militancy.
He also met with the ministers of energy, investment, and industry of Saudi Arabia.