Sri Lanka has called for stronger maritime and air links with Bangladesh to boost booming bilateral trade as well as FDIs. Meanwhile, trade between both countries has shown a steady surge not only in the last five years but even on YoY basis in 2017.
“Ports of Colombo and Hambantota are vital for Sri Lanka’s economy and the Port of Chittagong is of great importance to the economy of Bangladesh. Strong linkages and connectivity between the Ports of Chittagong, Colombo and Hambantota would facilitate shipping, tourism and investments between the two countries. In addition, more frequent direct air links between Colombo and Dhaka too shall strengthen economic cooperation, investment promotion, tourism and people-to-people contacts. Expansion of air-links would bring more opportunities to entrepreneurs and investors of the two countries too” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the celebration eve of 47th anniversary of the Independence and National Day of Bangladesh in Colombo on 26 March joined by (HE) High Commissioner of People’s Republic of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka Riaz Hamidullah, and many other distinguished invitees.
Highlighting Sri Lanka- Bangladesh trade growth, Minister Bathiudeen added: “In the past few years bilateral cooperation between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has been strengthened by friendly visits of high level official delegations. And such efforts have grown and expanded to encompass defence, education, sports, culture, investment and trade. For example, Sri Lanka’s bilateral trade with Bangladesh has been on a growing trend. In the five year period of 2013 to 2017, total trade increased by 55% to US $ 166 million.Even last year’s Lanka-Bangladesh total trade has increased by 17% to US $ 166 million in comparison to 2016’s $142 million.”
In 2017, Apparels, plastics, and petroleum products were Sri Lanka’s leading exports to Bangladesh which totalled $ 122.39 Mn while imports totalled $44 Mn (pharmaceuticals, machinery parts, potatoes, jute yarn, non-alloy steel, electric accumulators, and food preparations were the main imports). Lankan exports to B’desh increased by 9% to $122 Mn in 2017 compared to 2016’s $112 Mn while imports from B’desh increased to $39 Mn last year from 2016’s $29 Mn. Over the five year period from 2013 to 2017 Lankan exports to B’desh increased by 48% while imports to Colombo in the corresponding period increased by 56%.
Bangladesh is Sri Lanka’s 19th exports destination while from Bangladeshi side, Sri Lanka is their 53rd exports destination.
“As neighbouring members of the Bay of Bengal region, both countries have many commonalities. Our common cultural affinities and historical links have immensely nourished our modern day inter-state relations” added Minister Bathiudeen.
Among the multilateral and regional fora where Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been cooperating with each other are the UN, SAARC, BIMSTEC, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).