SL to fast-track Preferential Trade Agreement with Bangladesh
Under the guidance of the International Trade Office, the Sri Lankan Government has decided to accelerate the finalization of a proposed Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), as approved by the Cabinet of Ministers at a meeting on Monday. President Ranil Wickremesinghe had submitted a proposal to this effect. The Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister, Bandula Gunawardena, stated at a media briefing that the Sri Lankan Government is optimistic that the PTA will stimulate trade between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which has been low despite special provisions under accords. Once finalized, Bangladesh will become the third South Asian country with which Sri Lanka has a free or preferential trade arrangement, after India and Pakistan, and both previous FTAs have had a positive impact on bilateral trade.
The PTA is expected to build stronger relationships with key trade stakeholders at the regional level, remove market trade barriers, and create market access opportunities for Sri Lankan exporters, in addition to attracting investment and further enhancing economic cooperation to address existing problems related to domestic supply. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the decision to commence discussions towards finalizing the PTA with Bangladesh on 14 June 2021, after the two countries agreed to strengthen their economic relationship through a free trade pact during Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s State visit to Dhaka in March 2021.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are both stakeholder member countries of the SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA), South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), Global System of Trade Preference (GSTP), Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).