a year ago

Russia offers to export food items to Bangladesh

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Russia wants to sell its different food products to Bangladesh in order to diversify its export market amid sanctions on the former by the western world over invasion of Ukraine.

Under the proposal, Russia has offered to supply its food products, including red lentils, green lentils, sunflower oil, yellow peas, and chickpeas, to Bangladesh under a government-to-government (G2G) arrangement.

The Russian embassy in Bangladesh has recently sent the proposal through a letter to the Bangladesh foreign ministry. Then the ministry forwarded the letter to the commerce ministry for the next course of action.

As per the letter, 'Prodintorg' Joint Stock Company, Foreign Economic Corporation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Federation of Russia, has requested the relevant Bangladesh government authorities to start negotiations in this regard.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has already asked the officials concerned to review the proposal and take steps after discussion with the stakeholders, said the ministry officials.

'Prodintorg' has been supplying mineral fertilisers and grains on a G2G basis since 2013.

It is the only Russian state-run company to supply agricultural products and fertilisers to Bangladesh on the G2G basis, according to the letter.

"Since the beginning of cooperation, the state agency has already supplied to Bangladesh more than 1.3 million tonnes of potash fertilisers and more than 1.5 million tonnes of milling wheat," mentioned the letter.

'Prodintorg' is now very interested in expanding the cooperation with Bangladesh further by supplying various food products - yellow peas, chickpeas, red lentils, green lentils, and sunflower oil - on G2G terms.

"We would like to take the opportunity to supply these food commodity items at the best competitive and comprehensive price," said the letter.

Currently, Russia is the world's largest exporter of different food items, including wheat. Besides, it is an important exporter of barley and sunflower seed. It is also a leading exporter of energy and fertilisers.

Talking about the Russian proposal, a senior official of the commerce ministry said, "We have received a proposal from the Russian state entity regarding its interest in selling various food items to Bangladesh. Now we are scrutinising it. This is a very important proposal for Bangladesh given the present kitchen market situation."

"The commerce ministry is considering sitting with stakeholders, including other ministries concerned, Bangladesh Bank and relevant state agencies, for reviewing the proposal."

"But it will take time as the commerce secretary is now staying abroad," he added.

The official, however, said the issues with regard to the prevailing restrictions on Russia over Ukraine invasion will be taken into consideration while dealing with the proposal.

The absence of Bangladesh's direct banking transactions with Russia seems to be an impediment toward pursuing the trade deals, added the official.

The Russian-Ukraine war has dealt a severe blow to global food security through its impacts on wheat, oil and fertiliser exports, thus contributing to the skyrocketing inflation of all essential items.

The US and the EU imposed multiple sanctions, including SWIFT ban, against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, almost cutting the nuclear power off from the rest of the world.

Dhaka is now desperately exploring alternative payment systems amid multiple sanctions, including SWIFT ban, against Russia.

The government is trying to increase the supply of essential items in the local market as the commodity market is already overheated.

Lentil, edible oil, sugar, etc. are already pricier in the kitchen markets, hitting hard the consumers.

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