Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to sign free trade agreement in 2022
Sri Lanka’s Department of Commerce has reportedly noted that the country is expected to sign the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh in early 2022. It has also been reported that discussions pertaining to the agreement are happening actively regardless of the prevailing Covid 19 situation.
Acting Director General of the Department, Ananda Dharmapriya has told The Morning that high-level bilateral discussions were held during the last meeting of both countries.
“We met on 22 March and both delegations discussed and agreed on a work plan. This work plan involves how both countries will start negotiations and select products as we do not have any preparative work at the moment,” Dharmapriya has been quoted as saying.
Also, depending on the situation in regards to the challenges of Covid 19 in 2022, the agreement may be signed virtually or in person.
“We are mainly aiming to increase our exports to Bangladesh through the FTA. However, we are yet to identify the products and markets or sectors that both countries demand from each other,” Dharmapriya has noted.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Bangladesh in March to celebrate the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh.
The high-level bilateral discussions between the Sri Lankan Prime Minister and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were aimed at further enhancing relations between the two countries through a FTA.
Sri Lanka already enjoys FTAs with India and Pakistan. The proposed FTA with Bangladesh would further expand Sri Lanka’s trade ties in the South Asian region. The island is also fast becoming a business hub in the South Asian region given it’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean. The many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have given an added boost to Sri Lanka’s positioning as a business destination. Foreign businesses interested in doing business in the South Asian region could look at setting up base in Sri Lanka to engage with other countries in the region. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore the expanding opportunities in Sri Lanka.
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