On 09 November 2016, the Fifth Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting was held in Colombo. Hon’ble Commerce Minister of Bangladesh, Mr. Tofail Ahmed, M.P led a seven-member official delegation to the meeting and was also accompanied by a six-member high-powered business delegation comprising some of the country’s leading entrepreneurs.
During his three-day visit from 07 to 09 November 2016, the Mission tried to utilize the presence of the Hon’ble Minister and the business leaders from Bangladesh in an optimal manner through intense engagements with the Sri Lankan political leadership, business and industry people as well as local media.
Within his intense schedule, the Hon’ble Commerce Minister had interactions with four key Ministers of the Government of Sri Lanka including the Ports and Shipping Minister, Hon. Arjuna Ranatunga; Development Strategies and International Trade Minister, Hon. Malik Samarawickrama; Finance Minister, Hon. Ravi Karunanayake and Industry and Commerce Minister, Hon. Rishad Bathiudeen.
The day before the JEC talks hosted by the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, on 08 December, Hon’ble Commerce Minister took part in a ground-breaking Dialogue on the theme, “Bangladesh and Sri Lanka: frontiers of economic opportunities and partnership”, which was jointly organized by the Mission and the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo. Graced by the lively and active participation of a good number of stakeholders from the local economic (business and industry) community, the more than two-hour long discussion covered a vast range of issues including manufacturing (apparel), services (IT and ITES), shipping, hospitality (tourism), health and healthcare (Pharmaceuticals and medical devices), agriculture (crops-horticulture-fisheries-plantation), education, investment, banking and non-banking finance, etc. and created an opportunity for open interaction among the participants, who appreciated the initiative greatly.
In the morning of 09 November, Hon’ble Commerce Minister of Bangladesh, Mr. Tofail Ahmed and his Sri Lankan counterpart Hon. Rishad Bathiudeen led their respective delegations in the inauguration event of the meeting which later continued with the day-long technical sessions at the local Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel. In the meeting, both sides agreed to expand cooperation in the areas of trade, commerce and industries between the two friendly countries and also discussed establishing a ‘Comprehensive Partnership’, a wider economic cooperation framework rather than a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was reflected in the signed Agreed Minutes.
Besides, the same day, i.e. on 09 November, the local main business newspaper Daily Financial Times (Daily FT) carried an exclusive interview of the Hon’ble Commerce Minister by its Editor in the front page.