Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are discussing ways to strengthen ties in maritime sector, said State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury on Friday.
He said this after bilateral talks with Sri Lankan Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Nimal Siripala De Silva at Bangladesh Secretariat.
They discussed the signing of a coastal shipping agreement between the two countries. The deal is likely to be finalised in the next secretary-level meeting, said Khalid.
He announced that the next ministerial level meeting will take place in Colombo, where they plan to finalize maritime sector issues.
The two countries were set to hold a secretary-level meeting in February, but it was postponed due to problems in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lankan businessmen have shown interest in increasing their investment in Bangladesh, particularly in the Payra port, and a delegation will visit the port,” he said.
“The two countries have friendly relations, with no political issues to hinder their progress,” he added.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Tharaka Balasuriya discussed the blue economy during the meeting, which will be the subject of further discussions.
De Silva praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership, describing her as a leader not only of Bangladesh but also of South Asia.
He discussed increasing shipping traffic between the Chattogram and Colombo ports and providing logistical support to Colombo Port.
“The increased port space will allow Bangladeshi ships to have more space to operate,” he said.
“Sri Lankan businessmen have invested $4.5 billion in various sectors of Bangladesh, including the ready-made garment sector, and are keen to invest more due to the country's stable political situation. The Sri Lankan private sector is ready to invest in Chattagram and Payra ports, creating a new paradigm of Sri Lankan businessmen investing in Bangladesh,” he said.
“Despite being two small countries in the Indian Ocean region, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka hold significant importance due to their geography. We are grateful to Bangladesh because many export products go through Colombo port. We want to increase it further. It saves Bangladesh time and money," said the Sri Lankan minister.
The Sri Lankan delegation here to attend the Conference of Indian Ocean Regional Countries in Dhaka.
The bilateral meeting was attended by officials, including the Secretary of the Ministry of Shipping, Mustafa Kamal, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Tharaka Balasuriya; Chittagong Port Chairman, Rear Admiral M Sohail, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh, Prof Shudharshan Seneviratne and others.