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May 16 2013

Saudi Arabia weighs investment in Bangladesh agriculture

By SALMAN AL-MATAR Saudi Arabia weighs investment in Bangladesh agriculture Photo Credit:Reuters/Rafiquar Rahman
The Kingdom is considering investing in the Bangladesh agriculture industry, particularly rice production, according to a government source.

The move is in line with the King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad. The Saudi and Bangladesh sides met earlier this year to discuss the issue, during which Saudi Arabia said it wanted to draw on the microfinancing expertise of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh.

The Grameen Bank finances small low-cost enterprises and provides jobs with suitable incomes for citizens. The Saudi side wanted more information on Bangladesh's expertise in aquaculture and the production of feedstock. The Kingdom also wants to export dates and other agricultural products to Bangladesh.

The two sides discussed Bangladesh's request to import oil without paying interest and on favorable payment terms.

The delegations exchanged the necessary financial information, including the required credit reports of Bangladeshi banks and companies within the rules and regulations of the Central Bank of Bangladesh.

The Saudi side, led by Ahmad Al-Fuhaid, undersecretary of the Ministry of Labor for international affairs, met with the Bangladeshi delegation led by Mohammad Abul Kalam, Undersecretary of the Division of Economic Relations of the Government of Bangladesh.

On the security level, the two sides agreed to conclude a prisoner swap agreement, and enhance cooperation in fighting terrorism, organized crime, money laundering and counterfeiting.

The source said the two sides agreed to enhance bilateral trade relations and remove all barriers impeding the flow of goods.

The Saudi side was briefed on obstacles related to trademarks and certificates, and asked to lower customs duty on a number of products such as textiles and garments.

"Bangladesh asked Saudis to employ more Bangladeshi staff in the health sector, including doctors and nurses," said the source.

© Arab News 2013

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