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Sri Lanka urges Bangladesh to sign FTA
Publication Date : 14-03-2013
A visiting Sri Lankan minister yesterday urged Bangladesh to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with his country soon to boost trade between the two countries.
“There is immense trade potential between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka because of their favourable geographical location,” said GJL Neomal Perera, deputy minister of external affairs in Sri Lanka.
“Investment from Bangladesh in foreign countries is the only bottleneck in signing the FTA,” said Perera. “Bangladesh should address the issue immediately.”
Perera spoke at a meeting with business leaders organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in the capital.
He arrived in Dhaka on a three-day visit Tuesday to attend the Global Leadership Meeting on population dynamics currently being held in the capital.
Perera also urged the Bangladeshi businessmen to invest in the infrastructure sector of Sri Lanka and promised to provide all-out support from his government.
The Lankan minister also asked the businessmen of Bangladesh to use Colombo and Hambantota sea ports for transhipment to reduce time and export costs.
Sri Lanka will give attractive incentives and concessions to Bangladeshi shippers to use this harbour as a transhipment port, said Perera.
“Bangladesh is definitely interested in using the newly built Hambantota Deep seaport in Sri Lanka, as the seaport is the nearest and can provide good and efficient services,” said Sabur Khan, DCCI president.
He said Bangladesh considers the merits of direct marine connectivity between Chittagong and Mongla with Colombo as well as Trincomalee.
Such a direct connectivity may elevate the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to a higher level, he said.
The distance between Trincomalee and Mongla may be 25-30 per cent less than that of between Chittagong and Colombo, Khan said.
“This may be used as the point of entry for exports to Sri Lanka, side by side the Colombo port.”
Bangladeshi businessmen can explore investment opportunities in a number of areas, including pharmaceuticals, jute and jute goods sector in Sri Lanka, said WA Sarath K Weragoda, the Sri Lankan high commissioner in Bangladesh. Sri Lanka will assist Bangladesh’s tourism sector with their expertise and skills, he added.
In 2011-12, Bangladesh exported goods worth US$42.50 million to Sri Lanka against imports of US$32.22 million.