SL-Bangladesh Preferential Agreement being formulated

The Ministry of Trade with the Department of Commerce and other line agencies is working on the proposed Preferential Trade Agreement (BS-SL PTA), which was proposed between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with the participation of the Export Development Board (EDB).

A multi-party meeting in this regard was held under the patronage of Minister of Trade Dr. Bandula Gunawardana and High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka Tareq Md Ariful Islam along with the participation of companies that export products to Bangladesh.

Speaking at the event, Minister Gunawardana said that currently his Ministry, with the Department of Commerce and other line agencies, is working on the proposed BS-SL PTA to promote bilateral trade for the benefit of the citizens of both countries.

Expressing his views, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh stressed the importance of development of trade, investment, and logistic services including shipping and air transport between the two countries considering the close proximity and location advantage.

Representatives from several government institutions attended the meeting, and issues faced by the Sri Lankan exporters when exporting to Bangladesh were taken up for discussion with the Minister of Trade and the High Commissioner. About 30 companies representing tea, cosmetics and personal care products, textiles, electrical and electronic products, woven fabric, and rubber products including tyres and chemical products have joined the meeting.

EDB Chairman Suresh de Mel remarked that the meeting would provide a good platform for the Sri Lankan business community to share and discuss their views and concerns with the High Commissioner of Bangladesh as well as the relevant government authorities of Sri Lanka in order to meet the objective of increasing exports to Bangladesh.

Exporters who joined the meeting physically as well as via the Zoom platform pointed out the importance of the Bangladesh market for their products and investments. They directed their concerns when exporting to Bangladesh to the Minister, the High Commissioner, and the officials present at the meeting. Among those, the high rate of customs duty for Sri Lankan exports, visa matters, and insufficient container ships and flights among the two countries were the main issues discussed.

In response to the concerns raised by the exporters, the options available for obtaining visas to visit Bangladesh were explained. The proposed BS-SL PTA will be the option for receiving duty concession for the issue of higher duties when exporting to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is an important trading partner for Sri Lanka within the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) region. The total trade between two countries in 2020 was $ 200 million and Bangladesh was the 21st largest export destination for Sri Lanka in 2020 with a value of $ 153.44 million. 

Key export products of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh are electrical and electronic products, woven fabrics, petroleum oil, petroleum gases, textile articles, products of plastics, nails, screws, bolts and nuts of metal, and paper products.

Total imports from Bangladesh to Sri Lankan in 2020 was $ 47.89 million. This was an increase of 17.29% compared to the year 2019. Imports from Bangladesh include pharmaceutical products, apparel, etc.

Ministry of Trade Secretary J.M. Bhadranie Jayawardhana, EDB Director General Chitranjali Dissanayake, Bangladesh High Commission in Sri Lanka Counsellor (Political) Md. Reyad Hossain, and officials from the Department of Commerce and EDB also attended the meeting.