DHAKA: Bangladesh is set to import 500,000 tonnes of wheat at $430 a tonne from Russia in a government-to-government deal as it battles to secure supplies amid surging prices, two government officials with the direct knowledge of matter said on Sunday.

The south Asian country, among importers hit by disruption to Ukrainian and Russian grain exports, has been exploring ways to import the grain since its biggest supplier India banned export of the grain in May.

The deal with Russia will be signed in a few days and the shipment will take place in phases by January, one of the officials said.

Bangladesh will pay in US dollars for the import, the other official said, adding the cost included freight, insurance and unloading.Salman Fazlur Rahman, the prime minister’s private industry and investment adviser, said that Bangladesh is buying grain and fertiliser from Russia but did not elaborate.

“We can make payments in dollars for imports of food grains and fertilisers from Russia through 24 global banks, with no restriction on such imports,” he said.

After India’s export ban, Bangladesh tried via international tenders to shore up government stock that hit its lowest in three years earlier this year, but had to cancel some tenders because of the extremely high prices in a turbulent global market.

Bangladesh is a major importer of black sea wheat but no supplies have reached the country since the Russia-Ukraine war began in February.

The country imported 5.4 million tonnes of wheat in year to June 2021, with 24pc of its supplies coming from India, 21pc from Russia and 17pc from Ukraine.

The government, which has already been struggling to contain the impact of soaring commodity prices, could face further trouble as it raised prices of oil it imports and resells domestically by as much as 51.7pc early this month.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2022

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