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Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to resume talks for bilateral trade deal this month

Daily Mirror - 08 May 2023

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to resume talks for bilateral trade deal this month
By Nishel Fernando

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh plan to hold an introductory meeting virtually on 29th of this month to commence negotiations for the proposed preferential trade agreement (PTA), which is expected to eventually lead to a free trade agreement (FTA).

“We are having a virtual meeting on 29th of May with the Bangladeshi counterparts. It’s going to be a sort of an introductory meeting,” Sri Lanka’s Chief FTA Negotiator at the International Trade Office established at the Presidential Secretariat, K. J. Weerasinghe, told Mirror Business.

The two parties are expected to finalise dates and venue to hold negotiations on the proposed PTA during this virtual meeting.

Weerasinghe shared that the two countries are planning to commence negotiations for the proposed PTA with plans to expand it to an FTA eventually.

“The first stage is going to be a PTA, then it will eventually lead to a FTA; but it’s going to take some time,” he added.

The government expects to conclude negotiations for the proposed PTA by end of this year or early part of the first quarter of next year.

According to a study conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the proposed PTA could potentially increase the volume of trade between the two countries, leading to a 25 percent increase in bilateral trade within five years.

In particular, the proposed PTA has the potential to increase bilateral trade in fabric and yarn benefiting both countries.

So far, under the proposed PTA, Sri Lanka has sent a list of 112 items, seeking duty-free access to Bangladesh market, while similarly, Bangladesh has sought duty-free access to more than 100 products in the Sri Lankan market.

Meanwhile, Weerasinghe noted that Sri Lanka is still awaiting responses from Indian and Chinese authorities to resume negotiations on the proposed China-Sri Lanka FTA and Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement (ETCA) with India.

In addition, the government plans to express the country’s intention to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) when it opens up for new membership on July 1, this year.

Meanwhile, Weerasinghe remarked that stakeholder discussions with the private sector are continuing on a systematic manner ahead of signing of the proposed trade agreements.

 source: Daily Mirror