Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are working on setting up a Free Trade Agreement that is scheduled to be signed for the year 2018. According to many sources this FTA has been in the works for some time and will also be Bangladesh’s first FTA with any country. According to Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Mohmmad Shahidul Haque, ““Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Maithripala Sirisena decided to sign the deal in 2017 and asked that negotiations and studies be completed beforehand,”.
He also added, “This is an amazing breakthrough. Because Bangladesh has never signed an FTA before. I believe this is a big political progress towards trade and investment between the countries,”. Bangladesh had earlier entered into 14 deals for collaboration in various fields during the visit of Sri Lankan president to Dhaka.
FTA negotiations with Bangladesh has been in the works since 2013 and signing a FTA would mean a successful completion of these discussion. It is expected that the FTA will enable both countries to overcome tariff and non-tariff barriers that exist and therefore hamper trade between the two countries.
Earlier in the year, Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed had commented on the FTA drawing special attention to the use of the Colombo port through the FTA, which will save three days for local imports and exports. He also added that, “We will be able to export pharmaceuticals, paper and cement at low import duties after the FTA is signed,”.
The fourteen MoU’s that were signed prior has been
1. MoU on cooperation in Agriculture
2. MoU between Ceylon Shipping Corporation and Bangladesh Shipping Corporation
3. MoU on cooperation and collaboration in the field of higher education between the University Grants Commissions of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
4. MoU between Bangladesh Foreign Service Academy and Bandaranaike Diplomatic Training Institute in Sri Lanka
5. MoU between Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies
6. MoU between Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Bank for cooperation in financial sectors/services
7: MoU between Bangladesh Investment Development Authority and Board of Investment Sri Lanka for cooperation on investment matters
8. MoU on Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and Sri Lanka Standards Institution
9. Agreement on visa waiver for diplomatic and official passport holders and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
10. MoU on cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology
11. MoU on information and broadcasting between Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha and Sri Lankan National News Agency Lankapuvath Ltd.
12. MoU in the fields of radio, film and television
13. MoU on collaboration between Chittagong BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology and Sri Lanka Institute for Apparel and Textiles
14. MoU on economic cooperation between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
If this FTA were to be signed Sri Lanka will become the only South Asian country to have access to 3 big economies in south Asia that is worth to be around 1.7 billion for Sri Lankan exports. Also, this would mean Sri Lanka will be able to expand its operations to many other countries using the FTA agreements as well. BCIM economic corridor (Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar corridor) will also be realized through this FTA completely.
From 2012-2016, bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has increased 43%, to USD 143 million, and in 2016, 11% increase from 2015 value of USD 131 million was recorded. This are numbers that support a FTA and if the agreement were to be signed it is likely these figures would receive a huge boost in the coming years.
|Article Code :||VBS/AT/17112017/Z_2|