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Sunday, 28 September 2014

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Lanka and Bangladesh mull FTA

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have begun exploring the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement as bilateral trade increased to 67%,

It would be the first FTA for Bangladesh and for Sri Lanka, it will be a single entry-point for a huge regional economic corridor.

"There are so many sectors where both countries have their own comparative advantages. I hope that this Free Trade Agreement will help strengthen ties between the two countries," Additional Secretary, FTA, Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh Manoj Kumar Roy told the second Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group meeting on Trade that was held in Colombo last week.

The first meeting of the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade was held in Dhaka in February 2014. The Bangladeshi Additional Secretary Kumar Roy was accompanied by a five-member delegation for the two-day talks.

The Bangladeshi team was joined by Acting High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Colombo, F.M. Borhan Uddin. Both nations, have always stood by each other in difficult times. Besides, we do have a vast range of complementarities, which can be harnessed.

The Sri Lankan team was led by Industry and Commerce Ministry Secretary Anura Siriwardena. The others were DG, Department of Commerce, R. D. S. Kumararatne and officials, representatives from the Sri Lanka Standards Institution, Ministry of Economic Development and Tourist Board, Department of Trade and Investment Policy, Department of Customs, and the EDB.

"Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are related in so many ways. Trade is an important sector in Bangladesh-Sri Lanka relations and these two countries can integrate for mutual benefits. The symbiosis in providing goods and services benefits both countries, Roy said.

"Both countries are members of WTO, part of the multilateral trading system, in SAPTA, APTA and BIMSTEC," he said.

"Our government places much importance on bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The trade volume between both countries is not high, but considering the potential, I hope that if we can work through the FTA, and then it will surge to $ 1 billion," the Bangladeshi Additional Secretary said.

"What is important is not separate export or import values but the total trade volume. Both the government and the businesses have the responsibility to provide quality goods and services at competitive prices to its citizens," he said.

"There are so many sectors where both countries have their own comparative advantages - in some Sri Lanka is strong, in some others, Bangladesh is strong.

The comparative advantages could be made fruitful by signing the Free Trade Agreement. Trade is now the melting pot of the world, bringing citizens much closer, and even other ties are now basically dependent on trade," Roy said.

 

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