Bangladesh eyes FTA with Sri Lanka by 2018

Sep 08, 2017 (LBO) – The Bangladeshi Commerce Minister has made a high-level call for speedier Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka, to conclude as early as next year.

“Let us sign before end-2018, it is time that we focus on much broader trade levels,” Tofail Ahmed, Commerce Minister of Bangladesh said following high level discussions in Colombo recently.

“Bilateral trade has been on the increase but the volumes are not so great, we can do better.”

In the five year period of 2012-’16, bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka surged 43 percent to US 142 million dollars in 2016.

Year on year trade showed a 11 percent rise in 2016, up from US 131 million dollars in 2015.

“I too agree that being in the South Asian region, our present trade levels do not reflect maximum outcomes,” Rishad Bathiudeen, minister of Trade and Commerce of Sri Lanka said.

“We are working for the third Joint Working Group session between both countries to be held in Colombo any-time before the end of this year.”

The prospects of an FTA is being studied by officials and President Maithripala Sirisena’s Dhaka visit this July has provided further impetus for strengthening trade cooperation between both countries, he said.

The first meeting of the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on trade was held in Dhaka in February 2014 and both sides agreed on feasibility studies for a framework arrangement to boost bilateral trade.