Sri Lanka has invited top Bangladeshi companies for ‘joint ventures’ to tap ‘unlimited’ trade potentials, bdnews24.com reported.
Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Dhaka Yasoja Gunasekera said the two countries, strategically located along the Bay of Bengal, faced “opportunities and challenges”.
“We’ll have a particular interest in working in partnership with friends like Bangladesh in Asia and our immediate neighbourhood, the Bay of Bengal, to mutually beneficial economic cooperation,” she said, while interacting with diplomatic correspondents in Dhaka.
The Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) hosted the event, ‘DCAB talk’, at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity with its president Masud Karim in the chair. DCAB General Secretary Bashir Ahmed also spoke.
The envoy said “Sri Lanka’s government is working towards both national reconciliation and economic development” six years after the end of a bitter 30-year conflict with “a deadly terrorist group”, the Tamil Tigers.
She said the country would use all its “key assets” such as strategic location, educated human resources, innovative spirit, agricultural wealth, and tourism potential to attain upper-middle-income status.
The Dhaka-Colombo two-way trade was worth around $150 million, a volume the envoy felt was way “below the potential”.
She said both countries were studying the feasibility of free-trade agreement for mutual benefit.
“We have close partnership with the two major economies of Indian Ocean. So trade potential is unlimited,” she said, citing her country’s close ties with both India and China.
She described Dhaka-Colombo relations as “robust and warm” and promised to work towards the expansion of economic ties.
Gunasekera presented her credentials to President Md Abdul Hamid in September.
She identified trade, investment, tourism, agriculture, education, culture, defence, health, air and sea connectivity, and human resource development as areas of cooperation.
She said Colombo was specially focusing on certain sectors. They included export-oriented manufacturing and services, tourism, tourism-driven projects, infrastructure, higher education, skill development, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals.
Sri Lankan companies have already invested over $300 million in Bangladesh.
The high commissioner also suggested joint ventures in jewellery and readymade clothing.
She also launched the DCAB’s annual publication, ‘Beyond the Boundary’.