COLOMBO: Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have agreed to finalise a Free Trade Agreement between them by the end of this year. The matter came up for discussion during bilateral discussions when President Maithripala Sirisena visited Dhaka last week. As the first step, a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Partnership was signed between the two countries. The MoU “should pave way for the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by end-2017,” said the joint statement following the conclusion of President Sirisena’s visit. The two countries also signed 14 bilateral agreements during the visit covering areas such as trade and investment, agriculture, information and communication technology, higher education, finance and overall people-to-people connectivity.
Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is $ 142 million and during an investment forum attended by President Sirisena in Dhaka, attention was drawn to make it a threefold rise within the next few years. In order to reap the benefits of wider economic partnership, the two leaders directed the authorities concerned toward the early finalisation of the agreements on customs cooperation, the avoidance of double taxation and the promotion and protection of investment between both nations.