July 15, Dhaka: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena left Dhaka for Colombo today ending his three-day official visit to Bangladesh pledging to strengthen the bilateral relations with greater trade and investment cooperation between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Prior to his departure President Sirisena as the Chief Guest attended a high-level business/Economic Dialogue in Dhaka on Saturday with the participation of Sri Lanka as well as Bangladesh investors and entrepreneurs.
'Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Investment and Business Dialogue: Moving Towards Greater Economic Partnership' jointly organized by the Foreign Ministry, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Metropolitan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (MCCI) was organized to explore new investments and business opportunities in Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh business leaders and the visiting Sri Lankan trade delegation joined the interactive dialogue where they discussed about the ways and means for enhanced bilateral trade ties.
The trade figure between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is US$ 142 million per year and during the forum attention was drawn to increase the trade volume three-fold within the next few years. Agreements entered into by the leaders of the two countries during the President Sirisena's visit were also discussed.
Furthermore, at present Sri Lankan entrepreneurs have invested in Bangladesh in numerous sectors including gas, banking and apparel. During this meeting many unexplored opportunities available in those fields were revealed. Bangladesh investors were invited to explore business opportunities in Sri Lanka as now there is an investment friendly business environment.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Hassan Mahmood Ali also addressed the Forum.
Addressing the gathering, Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake described the FTA as an instrument to ensure "win-win situation" for the two countries as it would draw each other's investments to their respective countries and expected it to enhance further trade cooperation between the two countries.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said Sri Lankan President's Bangladesh visit would usher a new horizon in bilateral relations particularly with the signing of Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
President Sirisena held bilateral discussions with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday. Following discussions 14 instruments were signed mainly in business sector between the two countries.
The two leaders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Partnership between the two countries which should pave way for conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by end-2017, a joint statement issued today said.
Acknowledging that trade between the two countries is far below the potential, the two leaders agreed that in case of the economically meaningful exportables, tariff should be further lowered and non-tariff barriers addressed expeditiously.
Noting the potential of mutually beneficial collaboration in Pharmaceutical sector, Bangladesh requested Sri Lanka to simplify the registration process for Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals at the earliest.
"Taking into account the advantages, opportunities and complementarities that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka enjoy, the Leaders recognized the potential for collaborative partnership between the private sectors of the two countries, particularly in high-end apparel and textiles, information technology and related knowledge industry, religious and eco-tourism, gems and jewellery and precious metal, agriculture and agro-processing, fisheries- livestock- dairy-horticulture, health management, infrastructure development and construction, pharmaceuticals, energy and power. They underlined that investments from both countries could profit through increased joint ventures, public-private partnerships. They encouraged sectoral industries, industry associations, chambers, etc. of the two countries for greater dialogue towards beneficial and result-oriented collaboration, including investment," the joint statement said.
President Sirisena appreciating the warm hospitality and courtesies extended to him and his delegation by the government and the people of Bangladesh during the visit, extended an invitation to Bangladesh Prime Minister to visit Sri Lanka at a mutually convenient time in 2018.