DHAKA: Bangladesh is set 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 U.S. dollars for the import, the other official said, adding the cost included freight, insurance and unloading.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to talk to media.
Salman Fazlur Rahman, the prime minister’s private industry and investment adviser, told Reuters 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 24% of its supplies coming from India, 21% from Russia and 17% 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 resellsdomestically by as much as 51.7% early this month.
Bangladesh is also reviewing a Russian proposal to import cheaper fuel though paying for oil will be a challenge for Dhaka given Western sanctions on Moscow, officials have said.