Saudi investors have assured Bangladesh of investing in various sectors including power, energy and telecommunication in the country.
The commitment came from the two-day 13th Joint Economic Commission between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia that ended at NEC Conference Room in Dhaka on Thursday.
An MoU was signed between Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation and Saudi company ACWA Power on generating 180-megawatt solar power, Economic Relation Division (ERD) Secretary Monowar Ahmed said at the post-meeting press briefing.
"The Saudi side has agreed to invest in several projects. A couple of MoUs regarding investment in various sectors including manpower, power, energy and telecommunication will be finalised soon,'' said Monowar.
The joint economic commission has taken the bilateral relationship to a new height, he said, adding this is the beginning of a new era of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
On the other hand, Gassim said the discussion on different issues was constructive and friendly. Saudi Arabia is looking forward to strengthening the bilateral relationship, he added.
ERD Secretary Monowar Ahmed and Mahir Abdul Rahman Gassim, deputy minister for international affairs of the ministry of labour and social development signed the agreed minutes of the meeting.
Government officials said Bangladesh was expecting up to $50 billion in investments from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, but they were unsure as to when the investments would be materialised.
Saudi Arabia agreed to cooperate in creating skilled manpower in Bangladesh, he said hoping that the country would take necessary actions in this regard very soon.
During the meeting, both the delegations exchanged information on the latest social and economic progress and reviewed the outcome of cooperation between the two countries.
Some of Saudi Arabia's top companies – ACWA Power, ARAMCO, Al-Bawany, Al Jomiah, Engineering Dimension, Red Sea Gate Way Terminal, Honey and Health – discussed different issues related to Saudi investment in Bangladesh.
Both sides discussed about the lease of 1,000 acres of land to Al-Bawani by the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority. Al-Bawani agreed to conduct a feasibility study to assess the suitability of the potential site.
The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) agreed to provide detailed information on new investment opportunities.
The Saudi side said they would request the ministry concerned in their country to expedite the signing of the MoU with Public-Private Partnership Authority of Bangladesh immediately.
A proposal of $1 billion for the telecommunication infrastructure development (4G and 5G) by Teletalk Bangladesh Limited was discussed with Al-Jomiah Group and both sides agreed to work further on the opportunities on a priority basis.
The Saudi side expressed their willingness to learn about Bangladesh's experiences in microfinance, regulations, circulars and the knowledge in this regard.
The Bangladesh Bank has also agreed to share its experience and knowledge in this regard.
The Bangladesh side requested the Saudi side to contact the Microcredit Regulatory Authority and the Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation directly for specific issues regarding microfinance.
The Saudi companies agreed to expedite the implementation of the project with Gemco – a government enterprise under the Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation.
Bangladesh assured the Saudi investors of all supports including extending maximum facilities available to foreign investors under the country's foreign investment policy.
The Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Petrobangla, the Bangladesh Power Development Board, Aramco Trading and the ACWA discussed options to accelerate the development of the feasibility study and agreed that the feasibility could lead to new investments.