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HomeOpinionCommentaryCan Qatari Emir’s Dhaka visit strengthen Qatar-Bangladesh relations and ensure more investment...

Can Qatari Emir’s Dhaka visit strengthen Qatar-Bangladesh relations and ensure more investment and energy security?

By Jubeda Chowdhury

The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is very keen on developing the bilateral relations to new heights and he has accepted the invitation from the president of Bangladesh to undertake a visit to Dhaka after the Fifa World Cup Tournament, the ambassador of the State of Qatar to Bangladesh Seraya Ali Mahdi Saeed Al Qahtani said on Tuesday, 25 October.

The Emir of Qatar has accepted the invitation from the president of Bangladesh to undertake a visit to Dhaka after the FIFA World Cup Tournament. Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Bangladesh Seraya Ali Mahdi Saeed Al Qahtani handed over the official acceptance letter from Qatari Emir to the foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday for onward transmission to the president, the foreign ministry said.

The ambassador also said that the Emir of Qatar is “very keen” on developing the bilateral relations to “new heights”. Recalling his old memories in Qatar and with Qatari leadership, the foreign minister appreciated the socio-economic developments that took place in Qatar during the last two decades and Qatar’s rapid progress in transforming itself to a modern, developed and forward-looking country.

The minister also expressed gratitude to Qatar for hosting a large number of our nationals in Qatar who have been contributing to the socio-economic development of the two countries.

He stated that the Bangladesh government has set up 100 Special Economic Zones where Qatari investors could invest and urged the Ambassador to explore the opportunity to invest in various sectors including the LNG and power sectors.

In reply, the envoy commended Bangladesh’s quest for development and peace in its strides for economic emancipation under the capable and courageous leadership of the prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Foreign minister also appreciated the Qatari leadership for the country’s smart preparedness in hosting the World Cup Tournament in Doha in November this year.

He expressed hope that the two countries would engage efforts in making the upcoming high-level visit successful. The envoy conveyed his eagerness to work more closely with the Bangladesh side in the coming days. He handed over a replica of the FIFA World Cup to the foreign minister.

During the courtesy call on, the foreign minister exchanged views on various bilateral issues of mutual interests. He expressed satisfaction at the state of excellent bilateral engagements between Bangladesh and Qatar in various fields including political, economic, defense, manpower and trade. He thanked Qatar for hosting the Second Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) in Doha last month.

He said the FOC took up for discussion many pertinent issues of Bangladesh’s interests including recruitment of manpower including doctors, nurses, engineers, and technicians to Qatar, enhancing the current ‘quota of supply’ of LNG to Bangladesh, Bangladesh’s willingness to contribute to Qatar’s food security through direct supply of food grains and agro-products, enhancing bilateral trade and Qatari investment in SEZs and Hi-tech Parks of Bangladesh and a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis.

The Qatari ambassador responded that the Qatar side was satisfied with the outcome of the FOC and both sides were working on the arrangement of the exchange of high-level visits between the two countries’ leadership.

The newly appointed Qatar Ambassador to Dhaka Seraya Ali Al-Qahtani has expressed his country’s interest in enhancing trade with Bangladesh. 

He expressed his commitment to further strengthen relations with Bangladesh while paying a courtesy call on foreign minister AK Abdul Momen in March, 2022. He also informed the ambassador about investment opportunities in Bangladesh and expressed hope that during his tenure trade and investment between Bangladesh and Qatar will expand especially at Special Economic Zones.

The minister requests the ambassador to pursue the Qatar government to provide more LNG supply to Bangladesh. He also requested the ambassador to facilitate family visas for Bangladeshi expatriates living in Qatar.

The ambassador praised the role of the Bangladesh government for its steady economic growth and continued socio-economic development. The minister thanked the government of Qatar for hosting a large number of Bangladesh expatriates and for extending standard salaries and working environment.

The foreign minister informed the ambassador that the Bangladesh side is waiting to receive the Amir of Qatar in Bangladesh. He requests the ambassador to arrange the visit at a convenient time.

The minister appreciated the government of Qatar for supporting each other in the international forum. He expressed his satisfaction over the preparation taken by the Qatar government to host the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Bangladesh and Qatar have recently strengthened their bilateral ties. The Qatari businessman and officials have already shown interest to invest in Bangladesh’s energy sector, LPG storage terminals, power and infrastructural sector.

However, even under usual circumstances, both countries have been enjoying excellent relations and they have been supporting each other in international forums.

The world’s leading LNG producer Qatargas will supply additional liquefied natural gas amounting to around a million tonnes per year (MTPA) to cater to Bangladesh’s growing gas demand.

“Qatargas has confirmed us providing at least 1.0 MTPA of LNG from 2025,” as the country is on the lookout for foreign supplies to make up for domestic gas shortages.

Bangladesh sought to import around 2.0 MTPA additional LNG but Qatargas of the gulf-state Qatar confirmed the decision to provide around half the additional requirement yet, he said. The company has assured of looking into the matter of supplying 1.0MTPA more LNG in future, said the Petrobangla top brass. Currently, Qatargas supplies LNG to Bangladesh under a long-term deal with Petrobangla. The state corporation also has sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with Qatar’s RasGas to buy annually up to 2.5 MTPA lean LNG for over 15 years.

During the initial five years of the deal, RasGas will supply annually around 1.8 MTPA of LNG, which will increase up to 2.5 Mtpa in the next ten years, as per the agreement.

The purchase price has been set at around 12.65 percent of the three-month average price of Brent crude oil plus $0.50 constant per million British thermal unit (MMBTU). Should Petrobangla have greater demand during the first five years, it can increase the import volume annually to 2.5 Mtpa, and during the next 10 years, it reserves the option to reduce the amount by 10 percent per annum.

If Bangladesh takes less than the base amount of LNG, in any year, it will have to pay the price on a take-or-pay basis. Under the annual delivery programme Qatargas will supply a total of 40 LNG cargoes to Bangladesh in 2022. It supplied one cargo less, or 39 LNG cargoes, in 2021. The regular size of an LNG cargo is 138,000 cubic metres.

Bangladesh is currently struggling to cope with a mounting natural-gas demand due to dwindling natural gas production from local gas fields and higher price of LNG on the wayward international market.

Qatar is an oil-rich country in the Middle East. To support its economy the country is largely dependent on foreign labour: 89.5 per cent residents of Qatar are foreign nationals. On the contrary, Bangladesh is one of the largest labour-exporting countries in the world. Approximately 400,000 Bangladeshi expatriates are working there, which is 12.5 per cent of the total inhabitants of Qatar. The oil-rich country is undeniably an important one for our expat and migrant workers.

Qatar Charity runs several schools, orphanages and training centres in Bangladesh. In June 2017, Bangladesh signed an agreement with Qatari company RasGas to receive 2.5 million tonnes of LNG annually for the following 15 years. It is important to notice that the remittance inflow from Qatar in the last five years has reached the $1 billion mark.

The overall relations suggest that these two countries can be viable partners to each other. Bangladesh is a land of opportunities to a country like Qatar. Bangladesh produces medicines of international standard while Qatar imports medicines from abroad. Qatar has huge opportunities to invest in our hydrocarbon and service sectors. Moreover, since the income taxes were reduced with corporate taxes, investment in Bangladesh will be more beneficial to the country. Bangladesh is enjoying a demographic dividend and both countries can be beneficial from this rare opportunity. In the digital space, Bangladesh is also gaining ground and Qatar can invest in Bangladesh’s IT sector too.

Rather optimistically, Bangladesh’s economy is going to transform itself into a middle-income group. Investing in government bonds is attractive while the currency is stable. Additionally, Bangladesh’s policy governance has been exemplary in recent years. The country has been mapped positively, in terms of Economic, Social, Environment and Human risk successfully to continue its growth momentum. Meanwhile, it is also important for the Bangladesh government to remove all unnecessary bureaucratic red tape concerning foreign investment, especially when the country is yet to establish itself as a safe, secure and business-friendly nation.

Economic conditions and trends of both partners are favourable to boost bilateral cooperation since Qatar regularly invests in potential sectors overseas. While Bangladesh has the goal to be a developed country by 2040, countries like Qatar can directly engage and contribute to Bangladesh’s economic and development activities.



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