DHAKA: Bangladesh is expecting to boost mutual trade with Sri Lanka by signing a free trade agreement this year. It would be Dhaka’s first deal for free trade with any country, said Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque on Friday. “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Maithripala Sirisena decided to sign the deal in 2017 and asked that negotiations and studies be completed beforehand.” “This is an amazing breakthrough. Because Bangladesh has never signed an FTA before. I believe this is a big political progress towards trade and investment between the countries,” he said. Earlier, Bangladesh signed 14 deals with Sri Lanka for cooperation in various fields following bilateral talks with a delegation headed by President Sirisena, who was in Dhaka for a three-day state visit. Dhaka has been negotiating the FTA with Colombo since 2013 to increase trade now worth $80 million every year, said Secretary Haque.
The deal can overcome the tariff and non-tariff obstructions to mutual trade, he said. “Bilateral trade relationships must be nurtured amid global changes in trade ties.” “You’ll notice how many nations have been emphasising on bilateral, trilateral or regional trade pacts. These act as supplements when the multilateral trade ties of a particular country fails to serve.” Bangladesh has been discussing FTAs with some other countries, and inking one with Colombo will raise its capacity to strike a good deal, he said.