Bangladesh urges Sri Lanka to sign FTA quickly

Bangladesh has urged Sri Lanka to sign the free trade agreement and the bilateral coastal shipping deal quickly to enhance trade between the two countries, The Daily Star reported.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal made the call during a meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Hanoi, Vietnam, on the sidelines of the Indian Ocean Conference, according to a statement of the planning ministry.

Kamal requested the prime minister to take steps to speed up the preparatory work for finalising the FTA.

The bilateral trade between the two nations amounts to only $150 million and it will receive a boost if the FTA becomes effective, the planning minister said.

Wickremesinghe assured that Sri Lanka will expedite the FTA and maritime agreements.

He said a good number of Sri Lankans are working in Bangladesh in a very friendly environment, mostly in technical and managerial positions, supporting the manufacturing and service sectors.

Kamal raised the issue of the coastal shipping agreement, which has been pending for three years.

The maritime shipping connectivity will help Bangladesh’s shipping cargoes to reach their final destinations in the west via Colombo Port.

In 2016, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka agreed to sign the FTA.

In March this year, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said Bangladesh will sign the agreement in October. (Colombo Gazette)

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