Commercial potential in several sectors: Many Bangladeshi products have promising potential in the Sri Lankan market. Likewise, there are huge possibilities for Lankan products in Bangladesh. Now is the time to respond to the need to increase private sector participation in both countries. Sri Lankan entrepreneurs should invest in Bangladesh to serve their own business interests.
Sri Lanka has invested in Bangladesh’s electricity sector. Further opportunities open to Sri Lankan investors in Bangladesh’s special economic zones, industrial parks and high-tech parks.
The two countries can exchange experiences in agriculture, including rice cultivation, freshwater fish farming, tourism, cricket diplomacy as well as Covid-19 vaccine diplomacy. Bangladesh wishes to acquire technical knowledge of Sri Lanka on coasts, aquaculture, marine culture and deep sea fishing. Increased institutional cooperation in education for technical training and skills development can strengthen links.
Bangladeshi nurses and other health workers can be trained in Sri Lanka, which can benefit from importing world-class medicines from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is doing well in electronics and its products are now available in Nepal. Sri Lanka can import electronics products from Bangladesh to meet the demands of its people.
Even Rajapaksa hailed Bangladesh’s digital transformation under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and emphasized increasing trade and expanding the scope of business between the two countries. He praised Hasina’s leadership in the fight against the pandemic. He expressed his interest in exchanging experiences on the blue economy and disaster management.
Extension of port facilities: Sri Lanka has already authorized Bangladesh to use the Hambantota seaport in its southern province. This opens up a huge opportunity for Bangladesh. Bangladesh-Sri Lanka trade volume in monetary terms is $ 61 million. The government plans to increase it further.
Apart from this, Dhaka is also planning to provide various facilities to attract investment to Sri Lanka. The Port of Chittagong has historical connectivity with the Port of Colombo. Using the Port of Hambantota, Bangladesh can reach Central Asia, Western Asia, Eurasia, Russia, and China through the use of the Pakistani Port of Gwadar and the Iranian Port of Chabahar.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Bangladesh to mark the centenary of the birth of its founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and also the golden jubilee of independence of Bangladesh and had detailed talks with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The meeting agreed to take trade relations between the two countries to new heights. The meeting also signed six memoranda of understanding on bilateral cooperation.
Various regional and international issues were discussed during the hour-long summit. During the meeting, Sheikh Hasina stressed the need for a free trade agreement between the two countries, saying the trade volume is lower than expected. For this, the two parties should quickly move towards a free trade agreement.
According to the Bangladesh Bank, the country’s trade volume with Sri Lanka is very low. In fiscal year 2019-2020, only goods valued at Tk 473 crore from Bangladesh were imported from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh. In the same fiscal year, only Bangladesh Tk 325 crore of goods were exported from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh signed its first preferential trade deal with Bhutan in December 2020, with the peoples of both countries reaping the dividends. If a free trade agreement is signed, then only the sky would be the limit for Bangladesh-Sri Lanka trade relations.
Maritime safety: The Colombo security conclave held earlier this month opened up opportunities for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in maritime security.
Sri Lanka recently suffered from a foreign exchange reserve crisis. According to the latest reports, it only has $ 500 million in foreign exchange reserves. With this reserve, Colombo cannot meet its import expenses for three months. To keep reserves safe, at least three months of import expenses should be set aside.
Bangladesh has decided to lend $ 250 million to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka from its foreign exchange reserves. To this end, Bangladesh Bank will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. According to Sri Lankan media, Bangladesh has already paid $ 50 million to the Sri Lankan authorities. This will pave the way for new multidimensional economic relationships.
The government of Bangladesh has taken the initiative to export 21 products to Sri Lanka with duty free facilities. At the same time, the two countries have started to develop their bilateral trade, increase their investments and develop their shipping and tourism industries. Ready-to-wear, medicines, jute and jute products, ceramics, fruit juices, food products, vegetables, peppers, building materials, melamine, paper and cardboard, flowers, plastic products, leather and leather products, footwear Bangladeshi, soybean oil, potatoes, fertilizer and cosmetics have huge demand in the Sri Lankan market.
The efforts of the Government of Bangladesh to secure a duty-free market for the export of these products shows that Sri Lanka is becoming increasingly important in increasing regional trade. As a result of various initiatives, Bangladesh’s trade relations with Sri Lanka will be further strengthened. Friendly relations between the two nations also play an important role in increasing trade and investment.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is very keen to strengthen ties with all countries in South Asia. She emphasized economic diplomacy and ordered all government officials to ensure that maritime commerce and the blue economy are high on the government’s agenda. There is enormous potential for the exploitation of marine resources in the Bay of Bengal region; Sri Lanka can help Bangladesh in this area.
Bangladesh has taken the initiative, which is of enormous importance not only to the two countries but to South Asia. The two states are now expected to build on their growing trade relationship for mutual benefit.