Russia has expressed its interest in exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Bangladesh and setting up a joint LNG terminal here. If both sides reach a final decision, Russia will be the third LNG exporting country to Bangladesh, after Oman and Qatar.

In the fourth meeting of the inter-governmental commission, Russia has also discussed prospects of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exports to Bangladesh.

However, the inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation wrapped up the virtual three-day session on Wednesday, without signing any protocol.

In the Rooppur nuclear power plant project (RNPP), Bangladesh has to pay a fine if the Russian contractors delay in work. An amount of Tk 780 million has already been paid to Russia as fine under the project deal. The commission meeting discussed a revision into the relevant terms, but did not reach a decision.

Ilya V Shestakov, head of the federal agency for fisheries of Russia and chairman of the inter-governmental commission, headed the Russian delegation in the meeting while Sharifa Khan, secretary of the economic relations division (ERD), led the Bangladesh delegation.

When contacted, Sharifa Khan declined to make any comment over the meeting, except for her saying, “I presided over the meeting, on behalf of Bangladesh.”

The ERD, in a press release on Wednesday morning, said the session discussed bilateral cooperation in finance, trade, industry, power and energy, nuclear energy, agriculture, fisheries and animals, geological research, information technology, transport and education sectors. Also, the issue of deepening mutual cooperation as well as maintaining the meaningful interests of both countries came up in the discussion.

Former ERD secretary Kazi Shafiqul Azam, who led the first meeting of the Russia-Bangladesh inter-governmental commission, told Prothom Alo, “We need a partnership with Russia as it is implementing a big project – RNPP – here. It is not enough to depend only on western nations for export trade, Russia can be a big export-destination."

He, however, said both sides have to make concessions to take the diplomatic negotiations forward. Here, Russia will give major concessions as a big country.

According to the sources, Russia has expressed interest in making the commercial transactions to Bangladesh through its own currency – Ruble. Besides, they want to establish fertilizer factories, fuel refineries, leather and leather product factories, and research laboratories for the agricultural sector.

Apart from that, the country is positive about funding the Bangabandhu Satellite-2.

On the flip side, Bangladesh sought facilities for commodity exports to Russia without involvement of a third country and privileges in export tariff. It also sought bank-to-bank transaction facilities from Russia.

A total of 33 issues were discussed, but no protocol was signed due to lack of significant advancement in negotiation.

Sources said Bangladesh expressed its intention to welcome a high-level Russian delegation as the commission is not a forum to turn the discussions into decisions. The Russian side endorsed the urge and a delegation is likely to visit Dhaka within the next one or two months.