Bangladesh will import one lakh tonnes of wheat at around $309 a tonne from Ukraine, as per a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed yesterday.
"For now, we have decided to import one lakh tonne of wheat. The price has to be negotiated, but it will be around $309 a tonne following the price at the international market," said Food Minister Abdur Razzaque at Sonargoan Hotel in Dhaka.
Razzaque and Ukrainian Agriculture Policy and Food Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk signed the MoU, which Bangladesh's food minister termed “a historic move” in exploring the trade relations with the food surplus eastern European country.
The deal was singed following the first visit by a Bangladeshi minister, Abdur Razzaque, to Ukraine in March. It was also the first visit by a Ukrainian minister to Bangladesh.
The MoU is the third in the series after Vietnam and Thailand. Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Industries Minister Dilip Barua and Commerce Minister Faruk Khan were also present.
"We have seen that private traders cannot buy foods from abroad for volatile price of food grains. At such times, state's intervention is imperative," said Razzaque.
Wheat consumption in Bangladesh is increasing. Presently annual domestic production of wheat is only 10 lakh tonnes, while the demand is 40 lakh tonnes.
Presently, Bangladesh has a food stock of 13 lakh tonnes, but the state arrangement is imperative because anytime there is any crisis the state can import.
Under the MoU that lasts for five years, Bangladesh can buy food commodities at the international market price. International rules will regulate the transport and supply chain.
In a meeting at the ministry yesterday, Prysyazhnyuk said Ukraine would export 24 crore tonnes of food grains this year. The country exports 60 percent of the world's sunflower oil.
The Ukrainian minister said his country exports food grains at comparatively lower prices than that of other countries. Ukraine is interested to help Bangladesh in production of food grains, agro-processing sector and marketing of agricultural commodities, he added.
Arranging fair for farm commodities could extend the area of trade cooperation between Ukraine and Bangladesh, he added, according to a statement.
Razzaque said Bangladesh exports garment products, pharmaceuticals and shrimp, which could be exported to Ukraine also.
"In near future, there will be visits of higher level officials and we will explore new avenues of trade cooperation," he said.