Four direct flights between Dhaka and Colombo could be introduced by coming April to improve communication between the two countries, according to the Commerce Ministry of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh expects to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka during the tenure of the incumbent government as both countries have already completed looking into the feasibility.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed informed it after visiting Sri Lankan minister for development strategies and international development Malik Samarawickrama on 11 October, 2018 at his secretariat office in Dhaka.
“We agreed to finalize the joint feasibility study that was conducted by both countries with a view to signing the FTA between the two countries and after finalizing the joint study, we will sign the FTA within the tenure of the current government,” Tofail Ahmed said.
The agreement will cover not only duties but also the services sector and investment.
Tofail Ahmed invited Sri Lankans to invest in the special economic zones Bangladesh is developing across the country.
“Joint feasibility study has been done by our two governments and I am told that it would be completed by the end of this October,” said Samarawickrama.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Siddiqur Rahman, “A joint working committee would be formed engaging garment exporters of both countries to produce value-added apparel items for exports to European markets.”
“Bangladeshi manufacturers will produce the basic garments and may send them to Sri Lankan factories for value addition under the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tag and the country would also use Sri Lankan ports to its benefit,” he added.
Sri Lanka is at least two weeks ahead in lead time compared to Bangladesh for its geographical location. A shorter lead time is very important in this fast fashion era as buyers always want a quick shipment of goods.
Last fiscal year, Bangladesh exported goods worth $30.02 million to Sri Lanka while importing goods worth $47.80 million, according to commerce ministry statistics.