Foreign Minister Ali Sabry held discussions with State Minister of Shipping in Bangladesh holding Cabinet rank Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury for further collaboration in the shipping sector on 23 November.
During the discussion, both Ministers emphasised the importance of shipping as one of the key areas selected for collaboration between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Ministers Ali Sabry and Khalid Chowdhury agreed that it is important to hold the 2nd Session of Joint Working Group and Joint Secretary level talks early, in order to enhance the cooperation in the sector. Further, both the Ministers discussed finalizing the proposed Agreement on Coastal Shipping between the two countries and also the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the Feeder Service between Colombo and Chattogram. Minister Sabry highlighted that Bangladesh is a very important partner in the Shipping sector, as around 40% of Bangladesh’s exports, mainly apparel which are bound to Western Europe and US, are transported from Chattogram using the Port of Colombo and thereby reducing the cost and time for Bangladeshi exports, compared to Singapore.
The Bangladesh Minister mentioned the development of the Matarbari Port in Cox’s Bazar district, which is being developed as a deep sea port with the assistance of Japan and Bangladesh always targets to keep direct connectivity between Colombo and Chattogram ports through such initiatives. Minister Sabry invited the Bangladesh investors to invest in the terminal development projects in the country’s ports. Further, the Minister briefed the Bangladesh side, about the opportunities available for foreign investors in the Colombo Port City and invited Bangladesh investors to see the potential available in Sri Lanka.
The Bangladesh side requested the Sri Lanka side to consider offering priority berthing to the Bangladesh vessels, which arrive in to Colombo port. Both sides discussed further collaboration as Bangladesh is a country which widely uses the Colombo Port as a transshipment hub. The Ministers agreed that the development of the shipping sector is a positive factor for tourism development of the two countries. The necessity of having strong air connectivity and the entry of private airlines was also discussed.
Minister Ali Sabry is in Dhaka to attend meetings as the Vice Chair of IORA at the 22nd Council of Ministers’ Meeting.