Sri Lankan government records surge in trade with Bangladesh, calls for stronger maritime and air links for further boost
The government of Sri Lanka while calling for stronger maritime and air links with Bangladesh to boost booming bilateral trade along with foreign direct investments (FDIs) has noted that trade between both countries has also shown a steady surge not only in the last five years but even on year on year (YoY) basis in 2017.
“Ports of Colombo and Hambantota are vital for Sri Lanka’s economy and the Port of Chittagong is of great importance to the economy of Bangladesh. Strong linkages and connectivity between the Ports of Chittagong, Colombo and Hambantota would facilitate shipping, tourism and investments between the two countries. In addition, more frequent direct air links between Colombo and Dhaka too shall strengthen economic cooperation, investment promotion, tourism and people-to-people contacts. Expansion of air-links would bring more opportunities to entrepreneurs and investors of the two countries too,” Minister of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka Rishad Bathiudeen has said at the 47th Independence and National Day celebrations of Bangladesh in Colombo.
A statement by the Ministry notes that Bathiudeen has highlighting Sri Lanka- Bangladesh trade growth, adding, “In the past few years bilateral cooperation between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has been strengthened by friendly visits of high level official delegations. And such efforts have grown and expanded to encompass defence, education, sports, culture, investment and trade. For example, Sri Lanka’s bilateral trade with Bangladesh has been on a growing trend. In the five year period of 2013 to 2017, total trade increased by 55% to US$ 166 million. Even last year’s Lanka-Bangladesh total trade has increased by 17% to US$ 166 million in comparison to 2016’s US$ 142 million.”
According to the Minister, in 2017, apparels, plastics, and petroleum products were Sri Lanka’s leading exports to Bangladesh which totalled US$ 122.39 million while imports totalled US$ 44 million (pharmaceuticals, machinery parts, potatoes, jute yarn, non-alloy steel, electric accumulators, and food preparations were the main imports). Lankan exports to Bangladesh increased by 9% to US$ 122 million in 2017 compared to 2016’s US$ 112 million while imports from Bangladesh increased to US$ 39 million last year from 2016’s US$ 29 million. Over the five year period from 2013 to 2017 Lankan exports to Bangladesh increased by 48% while imports to Colombo in the corresponding period increased by 56%.
Bangladesh is Sri Lanka’s 19th exports destination while Sri Lanka is Bangladesh’s 53rd exports destination.
“As neighbouring members of the Bay of Bengal region, both countries have many commonalities. Our common cultural affinities and historical links have immensely nourished our modern day inter-state relations” Bathiudeen has added.
The increase in trade between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as well as the anticipated increase in bilateral trade in the future would result in a robust development in relations between the two countries. Given the continuously increasing trade ties between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as well as the geographical positioning of the island nation, it would provide excellent investment opportunities for foreign investors to set up base in Sri Lanka in order to engage in business with both countries.
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