A joint feasibility study on the signing of proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would be finalised by this month.
Visiting Sri Lankan development strategies and international trade minister Malik Samarawickrema said this on Thursday after a meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at its headquarters in the city.
BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman, its vice presidents SM Mannan Kochi, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and Bangladesh High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Riaz Hamidullah, among others, were present in the meeting.
The visiting nine-member Sri Lankan delegation led by Mr Samarawickrema also included apparel makers.
Earlier, both the countries agreed to sign FTA to boost bilateral trade.
"The primary objective of the visit is to see how both the countries can go together using the respective countries strengths and increase apparel exports to European Union in particular and other countries," the visiting minister said.
Terming the bilateral relations 'extremely good and improving rapidly' he said, lots of Sri Lankans are working at many companies in Bangladesh including apparel industries.
Sri Lanka is also exploring the potentiality of investment in Bangladesh, he noted.
BGMEA president said they held discussion on different issues including export of locally-made apparels to Sri Lanka and re-export to other destinations including the EU mainly to reduce the long lead time.
Bangladesh uses Singaporean port for export purposes which takes at least 26-27 days to reach products to final destination, Mr Rahman said.
"Sri Lanka has many ports and the lead time would come down to 17-18 days if we can use their ports," he added.
A committee comprising representatives from both the countries will be formed to explore the potentiality and challenges in this regard, he said.
Terming the present day 'the age of fast fashion', the FBCCI president said, "We can't take orders of fast fashion that is changing frequently and requires shortest lead time."
Both the countries are trying to reach an understanding to address the barriers, he noted.
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