Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena termed his visit to Bangladesh historic as the two countries signed 14 instruments – 13 MoUs and one agreement – on Friday.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also agreed to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by this year, aiming to further strengthen and institutionalise bilateral trade cooperation, reported UNB.
Sirisena and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina witnessed the signing of the instruments at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) following a bilateral meeting.
After the bilateral meeting, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque briefed reporters where the prime minister’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim was also present.
The foreign secretary said the FTA with Sri Lanka would be Bangladesh’s first such deal with any country and necessary study would be done prior to signing the agreement.
Also Read- Bangladesh, Sri Lanka sign 14 instruments
The lone agreement on visa waiver for diplomatic and official passport holders of the two countries was signed by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake.
The foreign secretary said the meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Sirisena would kick off a new journey in the bilateral relations of Dhaka and Colombo. He said both the leaders asked the officials concerned to complete all the necessary steps quickly regarding the FTA so it could be done shortly.
He also mentioned that if the FTA was signed, it would help Bangladesh sign such FTAs with other countries. He also mentioned that there were some FTAs in the pipeline.
“To me, this is a big political process towards trade and investment between the two countries.”
He further said seven of the 14 instruments signed were on trade and investment which means that the two sides are highly focused on boosting trade relations.
About the MoU on agriculture cooperation, Shahidul Haq said Sri Lanka wanted to develop its agriculture sector taking lessons from Bangladesh’s tremendous success.
On higher education, he said many medical students from Sri Lanka are studying in Bangladesh and the two sides signed the MoU to enhance the cooperation further.