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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka mull direct shipping

Update : 28 Aug 2013, 07:58 PM

The governments of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are making attempts to introduce direct shipping services between these two South Asian countries.

“Bangladesh’s foreign ministry is now preparing a proposal after having talks with the businessmen who are doing trade with Sri Lanka and using Colombo port,” said a senior commerce ministry official.

He said the proposal will be placed at the meeting of Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation in next couple of months.

A recently held inter-ministerial meeting at the shipping ministry office in Dhaka decided on launching the services with Sri Lanka.

The meeting discussed both advantages and disadvantages of introducing cargo services between Bangladesh’s Mongla seaport and Sri Lanka’s Trincomalee seaport.

Besides, the meeting talked about the time to be needed to transport containers between Chittagong and Colombo seaports, including the time to offload cargo from container and feeder ships.

According to official sources, the meeting decided that 3,000 and 3,500 gross-tonne multipurpose vessels will be suitable for the purpose.

At the Joint Commission’s meeting in March, Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of External Affairs GJL Neomal Perera said Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would be able to sign much-hyped free-trade agreement (FTA) soon for boosting bilateral trade and investment.

“Much have been done on FTA issue. We are very hopeful that the two countries will be able to sign the FTA within the next few months,” he stated.

The Sri Lankan minister said his country had simplified business procedures so overseas investors could avail of those opportunities.

“We are ensuring congenial atmosphere for doing business easily in Sri Lanka. There were difficulties in the past. And now you (Bangladeshis) could come to our country,” Neomal Perera claimed.

He called upon the Bangladeshi business people to maintain their export and import operations through the Hambantota and Colombo South ports since it will help reduce time for shipment of their exports.

The commerce ministry sources said the Sri Lankan government is considering to allow duty-free market access to pharmaceuticals, vegetables, agro-products, jute and jute products, ceramics, plastic ware, toiletries, corrugated iron sheets and house building materials etc.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations in 1972.

Bangladesh exports woven garments, pharmaceuticals, jute yarn and twine, knitwear, textile fabrics, sacks and bags, plastic goods, cotton yarn, iron chain, leather, accumulator battery and parts, engineering products and furnace oil etc to Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, the country imports chemical products, rubber and rubber products, transport equipment, electric and machinery equipment etc from Sri Lanka.

Bangladesh exported goods to Sri Lanka worth $42.59m while imported products of $32.2m from the country during the fiscal year 2011-12, the Joint Commission the meeting sources said.  

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