Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris ( yesterday -15/11) met the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen at the State Guest House Padma in Dhaka.
Foreign Minister Peiris recalled the visit of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who visited Bangladesh in March 2021 for the joint celebration of the 100 Birth Anniversary of Bangabandhu and the Golden Jubilee of the Independence Celebration of Bangladesh and that the discussions were very fruitful and the Prime Minister appreciated all aspects of his visit.
The Foreign Minister expressed warm appreciation for the consistent support which Sri Lanka received from Bangladesh in international fora especially the Human Rights Council and the CMAG (Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group) of which the previous Foreign Minister who is the current Education Minister of Bangladesh was the Chair.
The two Ministers also discussed the active commercial relationship between the two countries with Sri Lankan investment into Bangladesh being in the region of approximately 2.5bn USD. About 110 Sri Lankan companies are operating here and are excelling especially in the services sector such as insurance, banking and power sectors. However, there is scope for improvement of the volume of trade which is presently at the level of 200 mn USD annually.
Sri Lanka is keen on a Preferential Trading Agreement with Bangladesh and is happy that Technical negotiations have commenced and are proceeding.
There is particular interest in cooperation in the field of shipping because of Sri Lanka’s focus as a shipping hub and would like to strengthen the cooperation between the ports of Chittagong in Bangladesh and the ports of Colombo and Hambantota.
Emphasis was made in particular on the feeder services and coastal shipping arrangements. Cooperation between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka regarding a transshipment hub would be beneficial to Bangladesh because of the reduction of time and nautical miles.
The Foreign Minister said that a substantial number of Sri Lankan students are receiving their education in Bangladesh with Chittagong being popular among medical students.
Sri Lanka has reciprocally offered to assist with the training of nurses of Bangladesh in educational institutions in our country.
In regard to tourism, direct connectivity between Colombo and Dhaka is helpful and the Bangladesh Minister intimated the interest of a private Bangladesh airline in operating flights to Colombo.
The two Ministers discussed in detail cooperation between the two countries, within the framework of the IORA with particular reference to conservation of marine resources and security dimensions.