Dhaka, July 14: Bangladesh and Sri Lanka agreed to enter into a free trade regime by this year.
The two countries reached to the decision during official talks between Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the capital on Friday.
“President Sirisena and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unanimously came to the decision to sign the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by 2017,” Foreign Secretary Shahidul Huq said while briefing reporters on the outcome of the meeting.
The foreign secretary said both countries decided to complete all negotiations and studies in this regard as soon as possible to make way for the FTA, which will be the first such agreement of Bangladesh with any country.
“The decision on FTA is a big political push towards trade and investment collaboration between the two countries,” he said.
PM’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim and Bangladesh Ambassador to Sri Lanka Reaz Hamidullah were present.
The foreign secretary said the meeting, held in a very cordial atmosphere, mainly focused on trade, investment and agriculture.
He said out of 14 instruments signed between the two countries seven are on trade and investment and agriculture. Sri Lanka is keen to learn from the success of Bangladesh in agricultural sector to bring revolution in seed production, he said.
He said the instruments and a joint statement of the two countries has given a framework to the relation of the two countries. The joint statement has reflected the vision of the two countries to strengthen trade relation as well as political relation, he said.
At the same time, the foreign secretary said, the two countries have found a strong possibility of collaboration in higher education as a large number of Sri Lankan students are studying in Bangladesh particularly in the area of medicine.
Shahidul Huq said the Sri Lankan president termed this visit a historic saying it would be embark a new journey in the bilateral relation of the two countries.
The agreement of visa waiver for the diplomatic and official passport holders is a big achievement of the high level visit, he said.