By P.K. Balachandran
July 13, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, accompanied by a 73-member delegation including representatives of 40 private sector companies, is currently in Bangladesh on a three-day visit to sign ten agreements on a variety of areas.
Bangladesh officials said that the agreements relate to cooperation in coastal shipping; agriculture; education; investment; information and communication technology; and cooperation between the two Central Banks, foreign service institutes, think-tanks – Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies and Sri Lanka’s Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies KIIRSS.
There will be agreements relating to radio, TV and films as well.
Agreements for cooperation between two standards testing institutions, news agencies, Chittagong BGMEA Fashion Institute and Sri Lanka Textile and Apparel Institute, are also envisaged.
The bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will take place on Friday where trade, investment, agriculture, fisheries, coastal shipping, education, information technology and visa-related issues would come up.
The two-way trade is only US $80 million, but there is potential to expand the market. Bangladesh is in talks with Sri Lanka for a free trade agreement or FTA.
The Bangladesh High Commissioner in Colombo M Riaz Hamidullah earlier in a media interview suggested Sri Lankan investors could look at Bangladesh.
He said since Sri Lanka is a small country with a population of only 20 million, expansion of businesses here is difficult. Therefore, Sri Lankan businessmen and entrepreneurs should look to invest in a bigger
country like Bangladesh.
Sirisena will attend a business dialogue before leaving Dhaka on Saturday.
This is President Sirisena’s first state visit to Bangladesh. He had earlier visited Bangladesh as Health Minister in 2013 and 2014.