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DHAKA: Top business leaders from Bangladesh are preparing to visit Saudi Arabia to explore the Kingdom’s markets and enhance commercial ties between the two countries, the delegation’s head has told Arab News.
Opportunities for cooperation have been on the rise since March, when a delegation led by Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi visited Dhaka. The minister had been invited by the Bangladesh government and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry — the country’s apex commerce body.
With several investment agreements signed during the visit, Saudi Arabia entered Bangladesh’s energy, seaport and agriculture industries, while the two nations’ chambers of commerce established a joint council to navigate bilateral business ties.
“We are now planning and preparing a business-delegation visit to Saudi Arabia. It will be a 50- (to) 60-member delegation from different sectors,” Sameer Sattar, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries, who will be leading the delegation, told Arab News on Thursday evening.
“I think Saudi Arabia is a big market for us. Traditionally, we focused mostly on the EU and US for our exports, but we are in transition now due to the LDC (least developed country) graduation status.”
In November 2021, the UN approved a resolution for Bangladesh to graduate from the LDC category by 2026 because it had reached middle-income status. This means the country would, according to the UN, lose the “benefits accruing from LDC-specific international support measures” and have to mitigate these effects with various economic changes, which includes improving trade with other nations.
“We need to diversify our export markets. We shouldn’t concentrate only on one or two destinations,” Sattar said.
“Different sectors will be included in the delegation, which will comprise business leaders from both small, medium and large enterprises.”
Sattar said he wanted at least two conglomerates, IFAD Group and United Group, to be part of the delegation.
“These two conglomerates have businesses in different sectors like food, automobiles, real estate, construction, hospital, medical college, pharmaceuticals, power and energy,” Sattar said.
“I want to visit Makkah, Madinah and Riyadh with a big business delegation. The (Saudi) ambassador himself and other relevant officials in the embassy are very enthusiastic over this visit.”
Saudi Ambassador Essa Al-Duhailan told Arab News earlier this week that the delegation was expected to visit the Kingdom in coming weeks.
“I called the Bangladeshi businessmen and companies to go to Saudi Arabia, explore the market and have joint ventures with their counterparts, businessmen in Saudi Arabia, to have investment in line with Vision 2030,” he said.
“There are huge scopes of opportunities in Saudi Arabia. Just name any field, and you can invest there.”