Bangladesh Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement

The Minister of State for Trade expressed the country`s interest when he was recently called by a new ambassador from non-resident Argentina (based in New Delhi). The Argentine ambassador, whose country is the current president of this trading bloc, has promised full cooperation in this regard. The government has concluded tough EU agreements in the 2001 Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement between the two parties, in which Dhaka has accepted EU more WTO demands, to allow, for example, the monopolistic rights of companies on seeds (patenting). The government was in controversial talks with the United States on a framework agreement on trade and investment, a prelude to a possible free trade agreement with Washington; 2010, after several years of discussions, was not signed. The United States then asked Bangladesh to sign an agreement on the Forum for Trade and Economic Cooperation, but it has not yet been signed; India has lobbied for a bilateral free trade agreement with Bangladesh, but the World Bank has made it clear that India will benefit more; Pakistan has also lobbied for a free trade agreement with Bangladesh; Bangladesh, for its part, is interested in developing a free trade agreement with China. If this free trade agreement is signed, Sri Lanka will be the only South Asian country to have access to three major South Asian economies, which are worth about $1.7 billion for Sri Lankan exports. It would also mean that Sri Lanka will be able to expand its activities to many other countries that also use free trade agreements. The BCIM Economic Corridor (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Corridor) is also fully implemented by this free trade agreement. In the previous year, about $21 billion of the country`s total $36.66 billion in export revenue came from the EU, where Bangladeshi products enjoy duty-free privileges under the GSP system as the least developed country. Although Sri Lanka has already signed bilateral free trade agreements with India, Pakistan and Iran for Bangladesh, the proposed agreement would be its first bilateral free trade agreement. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are members of regional trade and cooperation agreements, including the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement and the Bay of Bengal Multi-Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation Initiative.

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