President Maithripala Sirisena concluded his highly successful state visit to Bangladesh last week. His last engagement was to address the high-level business/Economic Dialogue in Dhaka organised by Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), in collaboration with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh.
The official visit made on the invitation extended by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, commenced on Thursday, July 13 during which the two countries signed fourteen instruments of cooperation, including trade and investment, agriculture, information and communication technology, higher education, finance, and overall people-to-people connectivity.
The President was accompanied by Ministers Ravi Karunanayake, Wasantha Aluwihare, Lasantha Alagiyawanna and a high-level business delegation from Sri Lanka.
The President paid homage at the National Mausoleum in Savar, Bangladesh in memory of the martyrs of the 1971 War of Liberation.
He also paid tribute to the memory of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, Dhaka.
The two leaders recognised the potential for collaborative partnership between the private sectors of the two countries and underlined that investments from both countries could profit through increased joint ventures, public-private partnerships.
The two countries also agreed to work towards facilitating movement for the citizens of both countries in a more mutually beneficial manner.
Acknowledging that trade between the two countries is far below the potential, the two leaders agreed that in case of the economically meaningful exportables, tariff should be further lowered and non-tariff barriers addressed expeditiously. Bangladesh requested Sri Lanka to simplify the registration process for Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals at the earliest.
Both sides further agreed to engage in facilitating mutually beneficial investments in respective Special Economic Zones, Industrial Parks, Hi-Tech Parks.
The two leaders underlined shipping as one of the key areas with potential for mutually beneficial cooperation which should result in improved connectivity and open up further opportunities for bilateral trade between the two countries and beyond.
Both sides recognised the importance of enhanced air connectivity to promote people-to-people contact, tourism and trade. In keeping with long-standing friendship and spirit of regional cooperation, Bangladesh offered to share her knowledge, expertise and experience in disaster management and climate change adaptation capabilities.
In deepening interaction and collaboration in higher education, the two leaders welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding between the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Building on that, both sides agreed to facilitate wider tie-up between Sri Lanka Universities of Bangladeshi Higher Educational Institutions.
Sri Lanka welcomed the scholarships offered and facilities extended by Bangladesh to Sri Lankan students in pursuing higher studies in Bangladesh, including medicine. Bangladesh welcomed Sri Lanka’s support in training Bangladeshi nurses and other health professionals.
They further agreed to share respective knowledge, ideas, innovation to effectively realise the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and the SDGs.
President Sirisena appreciated the warm hospitality and courtesies extended to him and his delegation by the government and the people of Bangladesh and extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to visit Sri Lanka.
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