As bilateral trade crossed the critical $100 Mn mark for the first time, a confident Bangladesh called on 11 July for a formal investment protection mechanism to drive trade volumes to next levels. “As a result of an investment protection agreement, fundamentals of investments would be right for B’Deshi investors looking at Sri Lanka. And this would drive our bilateral trade forward as well” said Mohammad Sufiur Rahman, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka on 11 July.
High Commissioner Rahman was addressing Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka at EDB in Colombo. High Commissioner Rahman was making his farewell courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen.
Sri Lanka has signed bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (IPA) with 28 countries. 15000 Sri Lankans are currently employed in Bangladesh and 45 Lankan firms have invested $ 292 Mn in the country in various ventures while Bangladeshi investments in Sri Lanka (both BoI & non-BoI) are around $ 3 Mn (in 6 projects). Restrictions on capital and current investment outflows by Bangladesh, is seen as one of the limiting factors contributing to the non-achievement of full potential of investment development and protection capacity for both countries.
We are now working with Sri Lanka for an Investment Protection Agreement-the draft is being worked out jointly and there are some other elements need to be incorporated before its finalised any time now High Commissioner Rahman said. For instance there is huge potential for B’Deshi pharma sector here and their investments in Sri Lanka will also benefit the Lankan consumer. As a result of such an investment protection agreement, fundamentals of investments would be right for B’Deshi investors looking at Sri Lanka. And this would drive forward our bilateral trade as well. I must also thank you for accepting our invitation to take part in a trade meeting in Dhaka later this year, the High Commissioner said.
Responding to High Commissioner Rahman, Minister Bathiudeen said: We now observe a three-fold increase in bilateral trade since you arrived in the country. Therefore, I together with my officials commend Your Excellency’s efforts. On the investment side too there are potentials and I have no doubts that your work to make the Investment Protection Agreement a reality, is a great step in this regard. Please also convey our investment call to Bangladeshi manufacturers-we invite them for our exports manufacturing with a value addition focus-in the sub sectors of rubber, PVC products, cement, minerals, metal, transport equipment, gem & jewellery, electrical & electronics, ceramic, paper, leather, chemicals, pharmaceutical, boats, food, tea, wood, and coir.”
Total trade volumes between the two countries at $ 83.19 M in 2012, significantly rose by 67% to $ 139.23M in 2013, crossing $ 100 Mn mark for the first time. Sri Lanka’s main exports to Bangladesh in 2013 were cotton, knitted or crocheted fabrics, enzymes, narrow woven fabrics, articles of apparel & clothing accessories, life jackets, and gloves. According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh is the 40th supplier to Sri Lanka. According to the EDB, Bangladesh ranked at 25th in the direction of exports of Sri Lanka in 2013. In 2012, Bangladesh ranked as the ninth largest trade partner of Sri Lanka within the Commonwealth.