11th March 2012, www.sundayobserver.lk
The latest round of Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Co-operation (JTandEC) were concluded in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “Both countries agreed to hold JEC sessions once every two years in future” Minister Bathiudeen said.
“The next Sri Lanka –Bangladesh JEC will be held in Colombo in 2014” “We also discussed ways to boost bilateral trade volumes further.
Our trade has increased by 150 percent from 2001. However, it still has huge potential to grow”,said the Minister.
Sri Lanka’s exports to Bangladesh has increased by 150 percent from 2006-2011 but Sri Lanka believes that there’s untapped potential in bilateral trade. Under the Sri Lanka – Bangladesh Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation, the two countries have already agreed to boost cooperation in small and cottage industries, air services, tourism, shipping, and cultural aspects.
The Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Joint Commission (JEC) is the most appropriate mechanism to implement the 2011 MoUs between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.Among the cooperation avenues is the air-services, Mihin Lanka operates air services from Colombo to Dhaka but the Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce believes that it would be appropriate if the existing Air Services Agreement is revisited to make it more responsive to current needs, including the facilitation of transport of air cargo.
“Last year President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, agreed that the JEandTC should be revived” said, Industry and Commerce Minister, Rishad Bathiudeen. The fourth session was concluded while the previous JEC, the third session, was held in 1993.
During the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to Dhaka in April 2011, both countries recognised that the Bangladesh Sri-Lanka Joint Economic Commission as an effective mechanism to further enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries and agreed that the fourth session of the Joint Economic Commission should be held ‘as soon as possible.’ Both sides agreed that bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, though showing positive trends, was far below potential and did not reflect the cordial political relations. It was agreed that the two countries would undertake measures for trade facilitation including identification and removal of non-tariff barriers and simplification and harmonisation of mutually recognised standards.