May 10, Colombo: Sri Lankan government officials have held discussions with relevant officials in Bangladesh on ways to expand trade, and ports and naval affairs between the two countries.
Sri Lanka has indicated that it wants to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh to boost the bilateral trade and has also offered opportunities for the Bangladeshi investors in the ports sector.
Sri Lankan Ambassador to Bangladesh Sarath K Weragoda told a meeting in Dhaka Saturday that Colombo wants to sign a free trade agreement with Bangladesh to boost bilateral trade.
Addressing a discussion at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on "Improving Export: Importing Country's Perspective", the Sri Lankan envoy has said that Sri Lanka has eased the taxation system to attract foreign investment and Bangladesh can take advantage of it.
Noting that Sri Lanka has imported goods worth of US$ 82.14 million from Bangladesh in 2013, Weragoda has said that there is scope to increase the imports.
He has said that Dhaka and Colombo should sign either a FTA or Preferential Trading Arrangement (PTA) to boost bilateral trade.
Sri Lanka's cabinet last week approved a proposal to appoint a study group to conduct a feasibility study to conclude a FTA or a PTA with Bangladesh, with a view to enhancing bilateral trade between the two countries.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh recently agreed to enhance shipping connectivity between the two countries to expand the bilateral trade and commerce.
At the first Bangladesh-Sri Lanka joint working group meeting held in Dhaka late last month, Bangladesh Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan said the shipping connectivity between Dhaka and Colombo would strengthen the bilateral relations.
Chairman of Sri Lanka Port Authority Dr. Priyath B Wickrama, who headed a high level delegation that included Chairman of the Sri Lanka Shipping Corporation, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage said a coastal shipping agreement between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will ensure benefits for both countries.
Delivering the keynote speech at the meeting Dr. Wickrama said the Colombo Harbor can operate the largest vessels of the world and has a capacity of as it has been widened recently and there are many investment opportunities in Sri Lankan Ports sector for the Bangladeshi investors.
Sri Lanka will offer Bangladesh priority berthing, higher productivity, handling of empty containers, and special rebate for port handling charges for Bangladeshi vessels, the official said at the meeting.
At the forum, the two countries agreed to sign a coastal shipping agreement aiming to boost the bilateral trade and investment.