The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Bangladesh, Professor Sudharshan DS Seneviratne, at a Tuesday meeting with Bangladeshi businesses expressed his interest in Sri Lanka collaborating with Bangladesh to jointly work on the blue economy of Bangladesh.
Although Bangladeshi businesses showed willingness to sign a free trade agreement (FTA), the Sri Lankan HC seemed interested in going slow and deliberate on the deal, only after a successful preferential trade agreement (PTA) which is in the making.
"Bangladesh has tremendous blue economy potential in the Bay of Bengal. There are great opportunities to work jointly on a win-win development of the blue economy," Prof Sudharshan said at a meeting with the President of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Rizwan Rahman, on Tuesday at the DCCI Gulshan Center in the capital.
He said that signing a PTA with Bangladesh is in progress and hoped that soon both governments will be able to sign the agreement.
"If the PTA performance is good, then an initiative can be taken to sign an FTA in future," Prof Sudharshan said.
The High Commissioner's comments came after Rizwan Rahman said that to utilise the untapped trade and investment potential, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka can sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and collaborate in ICT, outsourcing, tourism and engineering solutions.
He also said that Sri Lanka can be an attractive destination for Bangladeshi investors.
The Sri Lankan HC also expressed his hope to increase the bilateral trade volume to $1 billion in the next five years. He invited Bangladeshi investors to invest in tourism, agriculture, shipping, and logistics in Sri Lanka.
Rizwan Ahmed said the manufacturing and service sectors of Bangladesh have high potential where Sri Lankan ntrepreneurs can invest.
He said bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka reached $165.04 million in FY 2020-21, where export and import was $47.32 million and $117.72 million respectively.
Rizwan Ahmed also said that Bangladesh mainly exports pharmaceuticals, RMG and seeds, while machinery, textiles, chemical, mineral products, base metals and the like are imported from Sri Lanka.