August 25, 2022
DHAKA – Dhaka is in talks to buy crude and refined oil from Moscow, Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy said yesterday.
“A number of initiatives regarding the supply of Russian crude and refined oil are being discussed both at the intergovernmental and business-to-business levels,” the envoy told a media briefing at the Russian embassy.
He said a sample of Russian crude oil would be given to Bangladeshi experts so that they can find out whether it could be refined here.
Primary discussions for exploring mechanisms to replace the US dollar in trade between the two countries have started, he said, adding, “I have recently met the governor of Bangladesh Bank to discuss the issue.”
With major logistical obstacles being removed, negotiations are going on between Moscow and Dhaka for the resumption of wheat purchase on a government-to-government basis.
Mutual efforts of the countries made it possible to increase bilateral trade turnover manifold. Last year, it reached an all-time high of almost $3 billion, he mentioned.
About the impact of the Ukraine war on bilateral trade, he said Russia-Bangladesh business relations are going through another challenging time due to the Western sanctions. But the Russian and Bangladeshi companies are getting accustomed to the new reality, he said.
Some of them are using alternative transportation routes to continue mutually beneficial trade. A large number of items have been delivered by air, Mantytskiy said.
“As a result, even in the first quarter of 2022, the turnover between our two countries amounted to a solid volume of $650 million, which is only slightly less than that of the same period in 2021.”
In spite of the widespread delusion that all Russian banks came under sanctions, there are only 14 financial institutions that cannot provide services to the Bangladeshi partners due to the sanctions.
The bilateral trade operations are being carried out successfully through other Russian banks unaffected by the Western restrictions, Mantytskiy said, adding that the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the Bangladesh Bank remain in close contact for discussing ways to open correspondent accounts.
Regarding energy cooperation, he said the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is being built without hindrances and the project is on schedule.
On August 19, Gazprom International Investments BV launched the drilling of a new well in the gas fields in Bhola. Drilling of two more wells is expected to begin this year.
He assured that Russia stands ready to supply potash fertiliser according to the previously signed contract, as the American sanctions no longer cover non-organic fertilisers and other essential food goods.
“… There is a growing interest in Russia for procuring Bangladeshi medicine and agricultural products,” Mantytskiy said.