A wartime agreement that unblocked grain shipments from Ukraine and helped temper rising global food prices will be extended by four months, the United Nations and other parties to the deal said Thursday, preventing a price shock to some of the world’s most vulnerable countries where many are struggling with hunger. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the 120-day extension a “key decision in the global fight against the food crisis.” Struck during Russia’s war in Ukraine, the initiative established a safe shipping corridor in the Black Sea and inspection procedures to address concerns that cargo vessels might carry weapons or launch attacks. The deal that Ukraine and Russia signed in separate agreements with the U.N. and Turkey on July 22 was due to expire Saturday. Russia confirmed the extension but said it expected progress on removing obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizers. Ukraine and Russia are key global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other food to countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia where millions of impoverished people lack enough to eat. Russia was also the world's top exporter of fertilizer before the war. A loss of those supplies following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine had pushed up global food prices and fueled concerns of a hunger crisis in poorer countries. While the extension prevents a price shock in developing nations that spend far more on food and energy than richer countries, threats persist from droughts in places like Somalia and the weakening of currencies around the world, which makes buying imported grain more expensive. “I was deeply moved to know that in Istanbul, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the U.N. had come to an agreement for the rollover of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, allowing for the free exports of Ukrainian grains,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. The Turkish Defense Ministry said the decision to extend the deal came after two days of talks in Istanbul between delegations from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the U.N. that were held in a “positive and constructive” atmosphere. Russia had voiced dissatisfaction with the deal facilitating exports of Russian grain and fertilizer, hinting that it might not approve an extension and even briefly suspending its part of the deal late last month. It cited risks to its ships following what it alleged was a Ukrainian drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Although Western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine did not target food exports, many shipping and insurance companies were reluctant to deal with Moscow, either refusing to do so or greatly increasing the price. Guterres said the U.N. was “fully committed” to removing hurdles to shipping food and fertilizer from Russia. The United Nations has been working to overcome issues related to insurance, access to ports, financial transactions and shipping for Russian vessels, according to a U.N. official who was not authorize to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the insurance issue has mainly been resolved in recent days. Russia has offered to donate 260,000 metric tons of fertilizer stored in European ports to farmers in the developing world who have been priced out of the fertilizer market because of shortages, and the official said the first ship is slated to leave the Netherlands on Monday for Mozambique, where the fertilizer will go by land to Malawi. Further shipments are expected from Belgium and Estonia, the official said. Read more: Russia to suspend UN-brokered grain deal with Ukraine The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow had allowed the extension to take effect “without any changes in terms and scope.” It said Russia noted the “intensification” of U.N. efforts to hasten Russian exports. “All these issues must be resolved within 120 days for which the ‘package deal’ is extended,” the ministry said. During talks on the extension, the sides discussed possible additional measures to “deliver more grain to those in real need,” the ministry added, apparently to address Russian complaints that most of the grain has ended up in richer nations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested Thursday that wheat from Russia could be turned into flour in Turkey and shipped to African nations in need. U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said last month that 23% of the exports from Ukraine under the grain deal have gone to lower- or lower-middle-income countries and 49% of all wheat shipments have gone to such nations. Markets were pleasantly surprised by the extension, said Ian Mitchell, co-director of the Europe program at the Center for Global Development who specializes in agriculture and food security. Following the announcement, wheat futures prices dropped 2.6% in Chicago. “Ukraine and Russia are such important grain exporters that the rest of the market can’t fully substitute for the complete absence of Ukrainian grain,” he said. “So that deal is going to matter to food prices significantly, even if the volumes are not what they were before the invasion.” He said, however, that uncertainty is “unhelpful in this deal.” Toward the end of the four-month extension, markets will “price in the risk that it wasn’t extended, and prices will rise a little bit again.” Arnaud Petit, executive director of the International Grains Council, said the Black Sea region produces some of the world's cheapest wheat and securing those supplies prevents a price shock to developing nations. There have been good harvests in the region, contributing to an expected 10 million more tons of wheat worldwide compared with last year, he said. The extension means that Ukrainian farmers can plan to plant. Petit called the extension a building block in “an unstable region where things can change on a daily basis.” Read more: Russia rejoins key deal on wartime Ukrainian grain exports However, when it comes to food prices, trade movement isn’t as important as currencies around the world weakening against a strong U.S. dollar, which commodities like wheat and other grain are priced in, Petit said. The council calculated that for Ghana, which mainly imports its wheat from Canada, the price of wheat in dollars from Canada has been largely stable for two years. But changing into local currency translated to a 70% price hike. Global food prices declined about 15% from their March peak after the grain initiative was adopted in July. “With the delivery of more than 11 million tons of grains and foodstuffs to those in need via approximately 500 ships over the past four months, the significance and benefits of this agreement for the food supply and security of the world have become evident,” Turkey's Erdogan said.
Robi Axiata, Teletlak Bangladesh and Summit Towers have entered into an agreement for sharing existing network infrastructure. Robi and Teletalk will be able to share their infrastructure in collaboration with Summit Tower as per infrastructure or tower sharing guidelines under the agreement. A deal was signed among the companies recently in Dhaka. Read: Robi launches sales academy The partnership will help the operators with the quick rollout and serve their customers better. It will also help them optimise assets. Teletalk Managing Director (MD) AKM Habibur Rahman, Summit Tower MD and CEO Md Arif Al Islam and Robi ACEO and CFO M Riyaaz Rasheed signed the agreement, said a media statement.
An agreement was signed today (September 1, 2022) by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) and Chinese firm U&D to develop the country’s second waste-based power plant. The power plant will generate 6 MW of electricity from garbage of Narayanganj city and adjoining areas. Welcoming the deal, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister M Tajul Islam said more such projects will be set up in other city corporation areas. Earlier, a similar agreement was signed in December last year by BPDB, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and the Chinese firm CMEC to develop the country’s first waste-based power plant in Dhaka with electricity generation capacity of 42.5 MW from garbage. As per the agreement, Narayanganj City Corporation will supply 600 metric tons of garbage to the U&D plant to generate 6 MW electricity, which the BPDB will purchase at a rate of US 20.91 cents (about Tk 20 per unit) for a period of over 25 years. A number of associated agreements were signed between the parties to implement the projects under which the NCC will also provide 10 acres of land to set up the incineration and power plant at Jalkuri area in Narayanganj city while U&D will complete the construction of the project and start commercial operation within 15 months from the financial closing. Read: First-ever waste-based power plant to be implemented under IPP mode The agreement was signed at a function at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka where State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, NCC Mayor Salina Hayat Ivy, and Power Secretary Habibur Rahman spoke on the occasion. Tajul Islam said the government has a plan to set up similar projects even in rural areas as part of the move to save rivers from pollution. “If we cannot protect our rivers from pollution, they would die in the course of time,” he said at the event. Nasrul Hamid said similar projects will also be taken up in all other city corporation areas across the country.
International Labour Organization (ILO) and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) have signed an agreement to promote, simplify and harmonize the one-stop service (OSS) of BIDA. Under the agreement signed on Tuesday, ILO will support the integration of safety licenses of four national regulators to BIDA-OSS. Over the course of a year, ILO will provide necessary support to Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence Department (BFSCD), Chattogram Development Authority (CDA), Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) to integrate and operate their licensing systems to BIDA OSS. Also read: Youth unemployment rate in Bangladesh stands at 10.6pc: ILO Additionally, ILO will facilitate the simplification of application and payment process in BIDA-OSS, and support an awareness campaign to promote the system among investors. These activities will be conducted under the remit of ILO’s RMG programme funded by Canada and Netherlands. The programme would also provide essential technical and financial support to BFSCD, CDA, DIFE and RAJUK to interconnect their safety licencing systems to BIDA-OSS. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Country Director of ILO Bangladesh Tuomo Poutiainen said investment in workplace safety protects businesses from occupational hazards and improves the brand image of Bangladesh. “We hope integrating relevant safety licencing systems in the BIDA-OSS and simplification of the OSS process is a necessary step to attract more local and foreign investors to apply for safety permits,” Poutiainen said. Also read: UNDP, Grameenphone, BIDA join hands to create economic opportunities for youth Executive Chairman of BIDA Md Sirazul Islam said BIDA is pleased to collaborate with the ILO to streamline one-stop service system. “We believe the harmonization and simplification of BIDA-OSS will help investors save time and cost for setting up their businesses,” he said.
European Union governments agreed Tuesday to ration natural gas this winter to protect themselves against any further supply cuts by Russia as Moscow pursues its invasion of Ukraine. EU energy ministers approved a draft European law meant to lower demand for gas by 15% from August through March. The new legislation entails voluntary national steps to reduce gas consumption and, if they yield insufficient savings, a trigger for mandatory moves in the 27-member bloc. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the move, saying in a statement that “the EU has taken a decisive step to face down the threat of a full gas disruption by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.” On Monday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would limit supplies to the EU through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, heightening concerns that Putin will use gas trade to challenge the bloc’s opposition to the war in Ukraine. “The winter is coming and we don’t know how cold it will be,” said Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela, whose policy portfolio includes energy. “But what we know for sure is that Putin will continue to play his dirty games in misusing and blackmailing by gas supplies.” The ministerial agreement was sealed in less than a week. It’s based on a proposal last Wednesday from the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. Keen to maintain a common EU front over a conflict that shows no sign of ending, the commission said coordinated rationing would enable the bloc as a whole to get through the winter should Russia stop all gas deliveries. Read: EU prepared for Russian gas cut-off: von der Leyen Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and the West protested with economic sanctions, 12 EU countries have faced halts to, or reductions in, Russian gas deliveries. Although it has agreed to embargo oil and coal from Russia starting later this year, the EU has refrained from sanctioning Russian natural gas because Germany, Italy and some other member states rely heavily on these imports. “Germany made a strategic error in the past with its great dependency on Russian gas and faith that it would always flow constantly and cheaply,” said German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who is also responsible for energy and serves as the country’s vice chancellor. “But it is not just a German problem.” The disruptions in Russian energy trade with the EU are stoking inflation already at record levels in Europe and threatening to trigger a recession in the bloc just as it was recovering from a pandemic-induced slump. The energy squeeze is also reviving decades-old political tests for Europe over policy coordination. While the EU has gained centralized authority over monetary, trade, antitrust and farm policies, national sovereignty over energy matters still largely prevails. In a sign of this, the energy ministers scrapped a provision in the draft gas-rationing law that would have given the European Commission the power to decide on any move from voluntary to mandatory actions. Instead, the ministers ensured any decision on mandatory steps will be in member-state hands. They also diluted other elements of the original proposal, including with exemptions for island countries. Nonetheless, Tuesday’s deal marks another milestone in EU policy integration and crisis management. The accord comes just six days after the commission rushed out the draft law — a stark contrast to past EU legislative initiatives in the area of energy that often involved months or years of negotiations among national governments. In that respect, the new gas-rationing plan resembles developments in EU health policy two years ago when, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, member states agreed to act in unison. This included letting the commission negotiate agreements with pharmaceutical companies on the supply of vaccines to all 27 countries.
Russian missiles hit Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa just hours after Moscow and Kyiv signed deals to allow grain exports to resume from there. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry denounced Saturday's airstrikes as “spit in the face” of Turkey and the United Nations, which brokered the agreements. Two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles hit the port's infrastructure and Ukrainian air defenses brought down two others, the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command said. Command spokeswoman Nataliya Humenyuk said no grain storage facilities were hit and she said there were no immediate reports of injuries. “It took less than 24 hours for Russia to launch a missile attack on Odesa’s port, breaking its promises and undermining its commitments before the U.N. and Turkey under the Istanbul agreement,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said. “In case of non-fulfillment, Russia will bear full responsibility for a global food crisis.” Nikolenko described the missile strike on the 150th day of Russia’s war in Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin's “spit in the face of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who made great efforts to reach agreement.” Guterres' office said the U.N. chief “unequivocally condemns” the strikes. “Yesterday, all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets,” the Guterres statement said. “These products are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe. Full implementation by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative.” During a Friday signing ceremony in Istanbul, Guterres hailed the deals to open Ukraine's ports in Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny to commercial food exports as "a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.” Read: ‘A beacon of hope’: Ukraine, Russia sign grain export deal The agreements sought to clear the way for the shipment of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and some Russian exports of grain and fertilizer that have been blocked by the war. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports halted shipments. Documents obtained by The Associated Press showed the deals called for the creation of a U.N.-led joint coordination center in Istanbul where officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey would oversee the scheduling and searches of cargo ships. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that the agreements offered “a chance to prevent a global catastrophe – a famine that could lead to political chaos in many countries of the world, in particular in the countries that help us.” The head of Zelenskyy's office, Andriy Yermak, said on Twitter that the Odesa strike coming so soon after the endorsement of the Black Sea ports deal illustrated "the Russian diplomatic dichotomy.” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, denounced the Russian strike on the port of Odesa as “outrageous.” "The Kremlin continues to weaponize food," she tweeted. “Russia must be held to account.” Along with the strike on Odesa, Russia's military fired a barrage of missiles Saturday at an airfield and a railway facility in central Ukraine, killing at least three people, while Ukrainian forces launched rocket strikes on river crossings in a Russian-occupied southern region. The attacks on key infrastructure marked new attempts by the warring parties to tip the scales of the grinding conflict in their favor. In Ukraine's central Kirovohradska region, 13 Russian missiles struck an airfield and a railway facility. Gov. Andriy Raikovych said at least one serviceman and two guards were killed and another 16 people were wounded in the strikes near the city of Kirovohrad. In the southern Kherson region, which Russian troops seized early in the invasion, Ukrainian forces preparing for a potential counteroffensive fired rockets at Dnieper River crossings to try to disrupt supplies to the Russians. Still, Russian troops have largely held their ground in the Kherson region just north of the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Fighting raged unabated in eastern Ukraine's industrial heartland of the Donbas, where Russian forces tried to make new gains in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance. Earlier this week, the Ukrainians bombarded the Antonivskyi Bridge across the Dnieper River using the U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russia-appointed regional administration in Kherson, said. Stremousov told Russian state news agency Tass that the only other crossing of the Dnieper, the dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, also came under attack from rockets launched with the weapons supplied by Washington but wasn't damaged. HIMARS, which can fire GPS-guided rockets at targets 80 kilometers (50 miles) away, out of reach of most Russian artillery systems, have significantly bolstered the Ukrainian strike capability. In addition, Ukrainian forces shelled an automobile bridge across the Inhulets River in the village of Darivka, Stremousov told Tass. He said the bridge just east of the regional capital of Kherson sustained seven hits but remained open. Stremousov said that unlike the Antonivskyi Bridge, the small bridge in Darivka has no strategic value. Since April, the Kremlin has concentrated on capturing the Donbas, a mostly Russian-speaking region of eastern Ukraine where pro-Russia separatists have proclaimed independence. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized Wednesday that Moscow plans to retain control of other areas in Ukraine that its forces have occupied during the war.
An agreement for shipping grain from Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea will be signed on Friday with the participation of Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations and Türkiye, the Turkish presidency said on Thursday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are expected to attend the signing ceremony, which will be held at the Dolmabahce Presidential Office in Istanbul on Friday at 18:30 local time (15:30 GMT), it said. The agreement comes at a time when there are growing concerns about a global food shortage as a result of the protracted crisis in Ukraine, which is partially blamed for the food price hikes across the world. Last week, the four parties held their first round of negotiations in Istanbul with an aim to ship Ukraine's grain to the world market to ease the supply. Read: Turkey again asks Sweden, Finland to extradite suspects Türkiye has long served as a mediator in the effort to establish a mechanism that will prevent a food crisis by enabling Ukraine to export its grain to the global market via sea routes. Istanbul will become an operational hub where the entire shipping process will be carried out, Turkish officials have said. Türkiye controls maritime traffic entering and exiting the Black Sea through the Bosphorus Strait. ■
An agreement on the final design of Bay Terminal Construction Project at Chittagong Port was signed between the Port Authority and the South Korean companies Kunhwa Engineering and Consulting Company Limited and Dian Yang Construction and Engineering Company Limited on Tuesday. President of joint consultancy firm Kunhwa Engineering and Consulting Company Limited Hwang Kyu Young and Chairman of Chittagong Port Authority Rear Admiral M Shahjahan signed the agreement in presence of State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury at the city's Intercontinental Hotel. Also read: Patenga Container Terminal set to open in June: CPA Chairman The South Korean joint venture will supervise the construction of the Bay Terminal along with formulating a master plan for the project which will cost Tk 126.49 crore. The cost of the entire Bay Terminal project is estimated at $210 crore. State Minister Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the Patenga Container Terminal at Chittagong Port is going to be opened soon. “Bay Terminal and Matarbari seaport will be brought under rail network; We are moving forward with the plan.” Bangladesh today is a role model of development to the world, he said. The 3.55 km long Bay terminal will increase the handling capacity of Chattogram Port. There are no curves in the Bay Terminal Channel and due to proper navigability, it will be possible to berth ships with a maximum carrying capacity of 6,000 TEUs in 10-12 m drafts. Also read:BPC plans to build new LPG terminal at Matarbari Three terminals- a 1225-metre long container terminal (Container Terminal-1), a 830-metre long container terminal (Container Terminal-2) and a 1500-metre long multipurpose terminal- will be constructed under the project. The Bay Terminal will have a total of 13 jetties with multimodal connectivity facilities. The Bay Terminal is located at North Halishahar, 6 km west off Chittagong Port. The distance from the bay terminal to the outer anchorage is only one kilometer. The width of the channel is 800-1200 meters.
Elon Musk said Friday that his plan to buy Twitter for $44 billion is “temporarily on hold” as he tries to pinpoint the exact number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform, another twist amid signs of internal turmoil over the proposed acquisition. Musk, who has been vocal about his desire to clean up Twitter's problem with “spam bots” that mimic real people, appeared to question whether the company was underreporting them. In a tweet, the Tesla billionaire linked to a Reuters story from May 2 about a quarterly report from Twitter that estimated false or spam accounts made up fewer than 5% of the company’s “monetizable daily active users” in the first quarter. “Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said, indicating he’s skeptical that the number of inauthentic accounts is that low. It wasn’t clear whether the issue could scuttle the deal. Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Friday. Stock in both Twitter and Tesla swung sharply in opposite directions, with Twitter’s stock tumbling 14%, and shares of Tesla, which Musk had proposed using to help fund the Twitter deal, jumping 7%. READ: Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44B and will privatize company Investors have had to weigh legal troubles for Musk, as well as the possibility that acquiring Twitter could be a distraction from running the world’s most valuable automaker. The proposed deal continued to pressure shares of Tesla, which had already fallen 16% this week. The sharp jump in the price of Tesla shares before the opening bell Friday singled rising doubts that the acquisition of Twitter will take place. Musk has already sold off more than $8 billion worth of his Tesla shares to finance the purchase. Originally Musk had committed to borrowing $12.5 billion with Tesla stock as collateral to buy Twitter. He also would borrow $13 billion from banks and put up $21 billion in Tesla equity. Last week, Musk strengthened the equity stake in his offer for Twitter with commitments of more than $7 billion from a diverse group of investors including Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. Money from the new investors cuts the amount borrowed on the value of Tesla stock to $6.25 billion, according to the filing. The Tesla equity share could go from $21 billion to $27.25 billion. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, who follows both Tesla and Twitter, said Musk's “bizarre” tweet will lead Wall Street to either think the deal is likely falling apart, Musk is attempting to negotiate a lower deal price, or he is simply walking away from the deal with a $1 billion penalty. “Many will view this as Musk using this Twitter filing/spam accounts as a way to get out of this deal in a vastly changing market,” Ives wrote. He added that the Musk's use of Twitter rather than a financial filing to make the announcement was troubling and “sends this whole deal into a circus show with many questions and no concrete answers as to the path of this deal going forward.” Musk’s tweet comes a day after the social media company fired two of its top managers. Twitter said the company is pausing most hiring, except for critical roles, and is “pulling back on non-labor costs to ensure we are being responsible and efficient.” In a memo sent to employees and confirmed by Twitter, CEO Parag Agrawal said the company has not hit growth and revenue milestones after the company began to invest “aggressively” to expand its user base and revenue.
NRBC Bank and OXFAM, Bangladesh will work together for welfare of the marginal people through micro credit, creating cashless village facility and online marketplace for small entrepreneurs. NRBC Bank and OXFAM signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard on Monday. Golam Awlia, Managing Director and CEO of NRBC Bank and Ashish Damle, Country Director, OXFAM, Bangladesh signed the MoU on behalf of their respective sides. Also read: WFP, Oxfam, Green Delta Insurance join hands to protect labourers The objective of the project is to alleviate poverty and injustice and create scope for them up with fourth industrial revelation by ensuring their access to financial and technological ecosystems. Kazi Md. Talha, Additional Managing Director, Kabir Ahmed, DMD, Harunur Rashid, CFO, Kazi Safayet Kabir, Head of FI, Mohammad Soeb Iftekhar, head of economic inclusion & Justice, Sonia Tahera Kabir, business development manager of OXFAM, Bangladesh were among others, present at the function. Also read: ACC signs MoU with Oxfam to strengthen anti-graft activities