Sri Lanka signs six MoUs with Bangladesh to enhance bilateral cooperation
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last weeken held bilateral talks at the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka and several memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were signed between the countries in the presence of the two leaders.
The discussions marked by great warmth and cordiality reflecting the excellent bilateral relations and friendship that exist between the two countries focused on taking forward the economic, investment, trade, technology, agriculture and fisheries and political relations, local media reports stated.
The two leaders had reportedly discussed all aspects of Bangladesh-Sri Lanka relations and also discussed contemporary international and regional issues of common interest.
They had further reiterated their firm conviction to further strengthen the bilateral relations with a pragmatic and mature approach based on sovereignty, equality, friendship, trust and understanding for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa had appreciated the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. He thanked for her government’s support of Covid-19 related medical accessories to Sri Lanka under the ‘SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund’.
According to reports, both the leaders had emphasized on reinvigorating the existing institutional mechanisms between the two countries including the Foreign Office Consultations (FoC), Joint Economic Commission (JEC), sectoral Joint Working Groups (JWGs), Joint Programmes/Work Plans as an important catalyst for further enhancing the overall bilateral relations.
In this context, the two leaders had further agreed to establish a Joint Consultative Commission for Comprehensive Cooperation to be headed by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries with a view to regularly overview the bilateral relations between the two countries. Bangladesh side would forward a draft of an MoU in this regard at the earliest.
Referring to the MoU on Economic Partnership signed between the two countries in moving towards a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the two leaders had reiterated their commitment for an early conclusion of FTA for harnessing the available synergies of bilateral trade which is far below the potential and not commensurate with the political relations, the Daily FT has reported.
The two delegations had also discussed the expansion of air services between the two countries and the promotion of tourism and trade.
Bangladesh had agreed to provide with rice varieties suitable for the climate of Sri Lanka and to assist Sri Lanka in developing the country’s freshwater fisheries industry.
The two leaders had further discussed ways to enhance the technical cooperation between the Central Banks of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Following the bilateral discussions, six MoUs were signed between the two countries for strengthening youth development, agricultural research, exchange of professional knowledge, training of health nursing staff, international collaboration study and an interchange cultural program for 2021-2025.
The two leaders had expressed their deep satisfaction at the signing / renewal of the following bilateral instruments:
- a. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Cooperation for Strengthening Youth Development.
- b. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sri Lanka Council for Agricultural Research Policy and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council.
- c. Memorandum of Understanding between the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Exchange of Documentation on Vocational Qualification.
- d. Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for Co-operation of Training of Bangladesh Nurses and Healthcare Workers in Sri Lanka.
- e. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Cooperation between Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies and Bangladesh Institute of International & Strategic Studies.
- f. Cultural Exchange Programme between the Government of the People Republic of Bangladesh and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for the Years 2021-2025. (FT)
Sri Lanka enjoys strong bilateral and trade ties with countries in the region. The island enjoys many trade agreements with these countries. Therefore, foreign businesses/investors 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. Sri Lanka is fast becoming a business hub in the South Asian region given its geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean.
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