Asked about the impact of the recent development, Policy Research Institute’s (PRI) executive director Ahsan M Mansur told Prothom Alo, “All the import and export letters of credit with the sanctioned banks would be stalled. The Rooppur project might come to a halt if Russia is completely excluded from the global transaction system. The future of the project would be uncertain if the works get stalled.”
The Rooppur project has seen considerable progress with economic and technical cooperation of Russia. The project is expected to commence commercial operation from 17 February 2024. Russia is giving Tk 910 billion (91,000 crore) loans in the Tk 1.14 trillion-project.
The contractor of the Rooppur nuclear power plant Rosatom on Tuesday, however, ruled out any possibility of disruption in the construction of the project amid Russia's war on Ukraine.
The Bangabandhu satellite-2 is a relatively new project. The process of launching the country's second satellite started through the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL) and Russian satellite company Glavkosmos last month. Glavkosmos is a subsidiary of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos. The experts have expressed concerns over the headway of the satellite project under the current situation.
Russia has been hit with a volley of sanctions since it launched attacks on Ukraine. The Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday warned the western powers not to impose any more sanctions.
The importers of Bangladesh who have business with Russia are already on a tightrope. The bank and business sources said they are facing problems in opening letters of credit while the demand of Bangladeshi garments has nosedived in the Russian market.
Bangladesh exported products worth USD 490 million to Russia in the 2019-20 fiscal. The export increased to USD 660 million dollars and growth 37 per cent in the next year
Bangladesh exported products worth USD 490 million to Russia in the 2019-20 fiscal. The export increased to USD 660 million dollars and growth 37 per cent in the next year. The garment is the most imported product. Bangladesh’s imports from Russia totalled USD 480 million in 2020-21. Wheat is the most imported product from Russia and Bangladesh also imports corn from the country.
Chattogram's food grain importer BSM Group’s chairman Abul Bashar Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that 90 per cent of the products imported from Russia comes through Switzerland, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and other countries. Sellers of these countries are not giving any assurance over the Russian products now.
A total of 11,000 banks and financial institutions of over 200 countries around the world are connected to SWIFT. Ninety per cent of the world’s total transactions are made through SWIFT. Experts think founding an alternative medium of transaction is difficult and time-consuming. Chinese currency can be used as an alternative mode of transaction but large banks do not have a connection with those Chinese banks. Also, sanctions might be imposed on transactions through Chinese currency. Some also think that a connection can be established with the Russian banks which were not sanctioned and transactions can be made through these banks. But this alternative also hinges on the situation.
South Asian Network on Economic Modeling’s (SANEM) executive director Selim Raihan told Prothom Alo that transactions might be started in alternative channels but that will increase costs and riskas. What would be the geopolitical consequence of such endeavours also remains to be seen.
Selim Raihan also said it should be observed what steps the western powers take against Russia in the coming days.
Bangladesh should take stronger policies in future, he added.