DHAKA: Bangladesh exports to Sri Lanka sharply increased in the just concluded fiscal year as the figure totalled $42.24 million registering a 38.76% growth over the previous year. In the FY2015-16, the export was $30.44 million. The pharmaceutical products constituted the largest part of the exports with $13.87 million followed by medicament mixture which earned $11.70 million, medicaments nes in form of dosage $9.11 million and garments $1.44 million, according to the Export Promotion Bureau data. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is in Bangladesh now on a three-day official visit. And it is expected that the bilateral trade and commerce between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would reach to a new level as a lot of issues to be discussed broadly. As of FY2015-16, bilateral trade of two countries stood at $75.62 million and the trade is in favour of Sri Lanka. Bangladesh export was $30.45 million, while import from the country was $45.16 million in the year.
The visiting Lankan president will hold meetings to strengthen the cooperation in the fields of the maritime, education, tourism, fisheries and health as well as the ways to promote investments between the two countries. At least 10 memorandum of understanding and agreements are likely to be signed during his visit. Experts think Bangladesh can ease trade gap with Sri Lanka focusing on its emerging pharmaceutical industry. The emerging market of Sri Lanka is also highly potential for the Bangladeshis products, they said, adding that it would help to diversify the export sector and reduce dependency on garments and traditional markets. “As part of export diversification, Bangladesh should focus on the pharmaceutical sector, a powerful emerging industry. It will help the country increase export value with the valued items, and Sri Lanka is a very potential market for Bangladesh,” said AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former finance adviser to a caretaker government. “Besides, in terms of export potentials, the Asian markets are still largely unexplored by the Bangladeshi exporters,” he added.
Mirza Azizul Islam said while there is an economic meltdown in traditional export destinations like Europe and the United States, Bangladesh will have to find new markets. “With similarities in culture and taste in some of Asian nations, the market can help Bangladesh boost its export sector,” he emphasised. Meanwhile, Bangladesh got an extension of patent waiver, which can be a big opportunity for the industry. The World Trade Organisation extended the waiver for Bangladesh and other least developed countries and they will not have to pay royalty for producing patent drug till 2032. “With the Sri Lankan economy growing fast, this is a huge market for Bangladeshi pharmaceutical products,” Md Harunur Rashid, senior vice president of Bangladesh Aushad Shilpa Samity, told the Dhaka Tribune over phone. He said the Sri Lankan pharmaceutical products market was earlier dominated by the Indian products, but Bangladesh is now setting a strong foothold by dint of its product quality. Bangladesh is said to take lead in exporting medicines very soon as the manufacturers have got international certification from a reputed organisation like the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).