A delegation of the UAE-based firm DP World, which has offered investment in four multi-billion-dollar projects in the shipping sector, will visit Dhaka next month to discuss a possible venture to build a deep-sea port at Sonadia.
"The team will make an elaborate presentation on the deep-sea port, which is very vital for Bangladesh," said an official of the foreign ministry.
UAE Minister for International Cooperation and Development Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid al-Qasimi had sent a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lobbying for the DP World, the official said.
Lubna along with DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem had earlier visited Dhaka on January 29 and met the prime minister and senior ministers, including Finance Minister AMA Muhith.
The government has formed a high-powered committee headed by Principal Secretary Sheikh Wahiduzzaman to scrutinise proposals related to deep-sea port. The other members of the committee include several secretaries, including the foreign, commerce and shipping secretaries.
The other projects the DP World is interested about are New Mooring Container Terminal at Chittagong Port, Chittagong Container Terminal, Inland Container Depot with rail connectivity in Dhaka and Mongla port.
Three countries have so far expressed interest to build the deep-sea port, the foreign ministry official told the Dhaka Tribune.
The Rotterdam Port Authority of the Netherlands had a meeting with the committee on deep-sea port at the Prime Minister's Office on July 4 to discuss the project and made a presentation.
"The government wanted proposals from a European country and the committee asked the Rotterdam Port Authority to submit its full proposal," the official said.
China also wants to build the deep-sea port at Sonadia.
The committee at its July 4 meeting discussed forming a consortium to build the deep-sea port.
"he committee asked the shipping secretary to submit a proposal in this regard by the end of August," the official said.
The consortium could be comprised of either China, the Netherlands and India, or the DP World and China, he said.
"The shipping ministry will collect brief investment proposals from the countries interested and prepare a proposal on the consortium and submit it to the deep-sea port committee," he said.
Bangladesh, an emerging economy with an annual trade of $60bn, conducted a feasibility study to construct the deep-sea port at Sonadia to develop the country as a regional hub.
Over 90% of Bangladesh's trade is dependent on the Chittagong Port, which handled over 1.1 million containers of twenty-foot equivalent unit last year.