Bangladesh calls for 2018 FTA | Daily News

Bangladesh calls for 2018 FTA

Minister Rishad Bathiudeen meets Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed in Colombo
Minister Rishad Bathiudeen meets Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed in Colombo

As Sri Lanka-Bangladesh trade continued its steady climb, a top Bangladeshi Minister recently issued a high level call for a speedier Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka, to conclude as early as next year. Yet another Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Working Group on Trade is also to take place in Colombo soon.

“Our present bilateral trade has been on the increase but the volumes are not so great,” said Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at a meeting with Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, in Colombo, recently.

High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Sri Lanka Riaz Hamidullah joined the high level discussion with Minister Bathiudeen.

In the five-year period of 2012-2016, bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka surged by a strong 43% to $142 million (2016). Even YoY trade increased during this period every year: 2016 alone saw an 11% surge (from 2015’s $131 million).

“It is time that we focus on much broader trade levels than at present,” said Bangladeshi Minister Ahmed. “Our present bilateral trade has been on an increasing trend but the volumes are not so great and we can do much better. I propose we speed up the proposed FTA between both countries. It is great if we can conclude the FTA by end of next year and I propose so. Meanwhile, we can conclude the next Joint Working Group before that, in view of the FTA.”

“It is time to broaden the trade baskets as well. For instance, Sri Lanka can buy more Bangladeshi pharma products at lower costs.”

The first meeting of the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade was held in Dhaka in February 2014 and both sides agreed on feasibility studies for a framework arrangement to boost bilateral trade.

The approval of the Sri Lankan Cabinet was granted in May 2014 and the feasibility study (Sri Lanka segment) was completed subsequently.

According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka under Minister Bathiudeen, during the second JWG Meeting in Colombo in September 2014, both sides agreed that after finalization of the studies and consultation with the stakeholders, “negotiations for a potential PTA/FTA or any other institutional mechanism may be initiated.”

 


 

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