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Sri-Lankan delegates arrive aiming at expanding bilateral trade
February 11, 2001
Dhaka-- (Bangla2000) – A high-powered delegation from Sri Lanka arrived here yesterday aiming at expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
Industries Minister Prof GL Pieris who is heading the 28-member delegation told UNB on arrival at the airport, “Our visit is to further strengthen the bilateral trade and investment ties specially in the private sector.”
His Bangladesh counterpart Tofail Ahmed received the distinguished guests at the ZIA airport.
The delegation that arrived here on a five-day visit included 10 officials and 18 leading businessmen from Sri Lanka, who will also confer with the business community in Dhaka.
Prof Peiris said they would identify new areas of mutual cooperation to give a push to the bilateral trade and investment, now insignificant.
He came with the delegation at the invitation of Tofail Ahmed who recently visited Sri Lanka. Tofail said he had apprised entrepreneurs the investment environment and trade potentials in Bangladesh during his visit to Sri Lanka.
“We have already initiated the process of expanding cooperation through introducing Dhaka-Colombo direct air flight,” Peiris said.
He said Sri Lankan entrepreneurs would go for investment in Bangladesh in areas of tourism, hotels, food and beverage, glass manufacturing, information technology, diamond cutting and financial services like banking and insurance.
“Sri Lanka has a lot to offer for tourism industry,” he said.
He also invited investment from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka in the sectors like rubber-based industries, IT, ceramics, shipping and infrastructure.
During the stay in Dhaka, the delegation is expected to call on the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, Industries Minister and Law Minister.
“The delegation will also exchange views with local businessmen and find out areas of cooperation … we welcome the beginning of exchange,” Tofail said.
He said Sri Lankan entrepreneurs could relocate their industries and export the products from Bangladesh to enjoy Bangladesh’s preferential market access to western world, especially in the European Union.
He also pointed out the potentials of exploring opportunities within the SAARC framework as both the countries belong to the regional cooperation association.
Dr Nihal Samarappuli, Sri Lankan BOI official, who is the delegation said textile mills under joint venture could be one of the major sectors to cooperate as Bangladesh has the technical expertise while Sri Lanka can produce high value added products in RMG.
Probably the unutilised garments quota, strategic resources like cheap labour and raw materials are the advantages in Bangladesh, he told UNB.
“LPG can be another sector,” he said adding that it would require a tripartite entrepreneurship with gas of Bangladesh, technology from a third country and Sri Lanka providing storage facility and export to other countries.
Referring to the attitudes of Sri Lankan investors already operating business here, Dr Nihal said the existing ones are trying to expand their activities in Bangladesh. “If the conditions are good they will be interested in other projects,” he said.
About investment environment, he said a project requires so many approvals here and the process is so slow while in Sri Lanka it’s very easy to do.
Sri Lankan investors are already running few garment factories, an international school, VANIK and a residential hotel in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh exported jute yarn and goods, twine and pharmaceuticals worth only US$4.66 million in 1999-2000 to Sri Lanka while imported animal or vegetable fat, plastic and rubber goods, stone, plaster and cement, textile and textile products worth US$8.38 million, thus giving Sri Lanka a favourable trade balance.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are competitors in certain items like garments and tea in the world market.