- Feasibility studies completed: Rishad
- Biggest B’Deshi biz delegation in Colombo
- Trying to get an FTA: Rahman, B’desh ICC
- Consult before financial consolidation: Rishad
- Bilateral trade rises by 67%
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (second from right) greets International Chamber of Commerce of Bangladesh President Mahbubur Rahman (third from right) as ICC Sri Lanka Chairman Keerthi Gunawardane (far right) looks on at the inauguration event of workshop on International Trade Finance at the Galadari Hotel on 13 February
An FTA between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh could boost current trade levels sevenfold. Sri Lanka says the feasibility studies have now been completed
“I am pleased of the success of first meeting of the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade in Dhaka last year. To identify ways and means of enhancing Sri Lanka and Bangladesh bilateral trade, the Feasibility Study on establishing a Framework Arrangement has been completed. Consolidation efforts of finance and banks need to be done with wider consultation,” announced Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (second from right) in discussion with ICC Sri Lanka Chairman Keerthi Gunawardane (far right) at the inauguration event of workshop on International Trade Finance at the Galadari Hotel on 13 February
Bathiudeen was addressing the inaugural event of the workshop on International Trade Finance jointly organised by International Chamber of Commerce chapters of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at Galadari Hotel on 13 February.
Joining the event were a 107-member strong banking and industry delegation from Bangladesh led by International Chamber of Commerce of Bangladesh President Mahbubur Rahman, reps from Sri Lankan banking and business chambers, ICC Sri Lanka Chairman Keerthi Gunawardane, ICC Sri Lanka Immediate Past Chairman Tissa Jayaweera, Department of Commerce DG R.D.S. Kumararatne, ICC Bangladesh Secretary General Ataur Rahman and Standard Chartered Bank Colombo CEO Jim McCabe.
Bangladesh was Sri Lanka’s 25th export destination in 2013 and bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 67% in 2013 to $ 139 million from 2012’s $ 83 million, hihlgihting the immense unrealised trade potentials that needs to explore for mutual benefit.
“Both our nations are members of SAFTA APTA and BIMSTEC. Therefore I am sure that you would agree that we can synergise faster,” said Bathiudeen. “This is the largest such delegation to arrive in Sri Lanka from Bangladesh in recent times. It is very clear to us of the high importance placed by Bangladesh on relations with Sri Lanka. Therefore I have no doubts that this is also a new chapter in our centuries-old trade and business cooperation efforts.
“I am aware that there are 107 bankers and industry delegates from Bangladesh present here today. This will be an ideal opportunity to not only to introduce and network with Lankan sectors but even to form partnerships for mutual benefits in a free and new Sri Lanka under the leadership of our President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Your visit takes place not only at an important time in our history it also takes place in a background of developments in banking and micro finance.
“An important current development in our banking sector is the reviewing by President Maithripala Sirisena in his 100-day program of the proposed changes to integrate Sri Lanka’s finance companies and banks. We believe that such consolidation efforts need to be done with wider consultation of stakeholders and if not, sectoral issues could arise. The other commendable development is to set up an institution to regulate and develop Sri Lanka’s micro-finance sector helping our SME sector.”
A segment of the 107-strong banking and industry delegation in Colombo at the inauguration event of the workshop on International Trade Finance at the Galadari Hotel on 13 February
In 2013, Sri Lanka’s major exports to Bangladesh were cotton, knitted fabrics, and enzymes while major imports were medicaments, apparel and potatoes.
International Chamber of Commerce of Bangladesh President Mahbubur Rahman, addressing the event, said: “Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have a close affinity. South Asia has the potential to increase its trade and play a big role in global trade. Both Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi economies are expected to expand in 2015. Current bilateral trade is at minimal level but there is potential towards $ 1 billion trade. Therefore we are trying to get an FTA. Such an FTA would be the first FTA for Bangladesh and for Sri Lanka it’s a huge opening it would open a single entry point for the important regional BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar) economic corridor.”
Standard Chartered Bank Colombo CEO Jim McCabe said: “We are excited to support this initiative. Trade between the two countries are becoming stronger. We are very bullish on Sri Lanka.”