Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will sign at least 10 memoranda of understanding and agreements on a wide range of issues during President Maithripala Sirisena’s three-day visit starting Thursday.
A 73-member delegation will accompany the president in his first state visit to Bangladesh. He earlier visited Bangladesh in 2013 and 2014 as health minister, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said at a media briefing in Dhaka on Wednesday.
A 21-gun salute will herald Sirisena’s arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 11am. His Bangladesh counterpart Md Abdul Hamid will receive him at the airport. He will be given a guard of honour.
In the afternoon, he will visit the National Memorial in Savar to pay respects to the martyrs of Bangladesh’s Liberation War.
He will also visit Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi 32 to pay homage to the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The state minister said the visit would open new scope for bilateral engagement.
Coastal shipping and visa waiver of diplomatic and official passport holders are among the key deals to be signed.
Other deals expected to be signed include cooperation in agriculture, education, investment, information and communication technology, agreements between the two central banks, foreign service institutes, between Bangladesh’s think-tank BIISS and Sri Lanka’s LKIIRSS, and radio, TV and films.
Besides, a deal will be signed for cooperation between two standards testing institutions, news agencies, Chittagong BGMEA Fashion Institute and Sri Lanka Textile and Apparel Institute, apart from economic cooperation.
The state minister said the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will take place on Friday where trade, investment, agriculture, fisheries, coastal shipping, education, information technology and visa-related issues would come up.
The two-way trade is only $80 million, but there is potential to expand the market.
Alam said they are in talks with Sri Lanka for a free trade agreement or FTA.
Bangladesh High Commissioner in Colombo M Riaz Hamidullah earlier in a media interview suggested Sri Lankan investors look at Bangladesh.
He said since Sri Lanka is a small country with a population of only 20 million, expansion of businesses here is difficult. Therefore, Sri Lankan businessmen and entrepreneurs should look to invest in a bigger country like Bangladesh.
Speaker of Parliament Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, Leader of the Opposition Raushan Ershad, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Health Minister Mohammed Nasim will also call on Sirisena.
Sirisena will meet his counterpart Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban on Friday when the president will host a banquet in his honour.
He will also attend a business dialogue before leaving Dhaka on Saturday.