Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be able to sign free trade agreement (FTA) soon for boosting bilateral trade and investment relations, Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of External Affairs GJL Neomal Perera said in Dhaka on Wednesday.

"We’re very hopeful that the two countries will be able to sign the FTA within the next few months," he told reporters after a business meeting with the local entrepreneurs at the auditorium of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on the day. 

DCCI organized the meeting on promoting bilateral trade, investment, shipping and tourism between Dhaka and Colombo. 

The Sri Lankan minister said that his country had simplified the business procedures and the overseas investors could avail those opportunities. 

He called upon the Bangladeshi business people to maintain their export and import operations through the Hambantota and Colombo South ports since it will help reduce time for shipment of their exports. 

He also invited Bangladeshi investors to invest in the infrastructure sector in Sri Lanka. 

Mr Perera said that his country will host the Commonwealth Business Forum to be held on November 12-15, 2013 in Colombo. He invited Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to attend the upcoming business forum. 

High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Bangladesh WA Sarath K Weragoda said there are immense opportunities that both countries could work together for their common benefits. "Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could work together to promote tourism and other sectors.” 

President of DCCI Md Sabur Khan said both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka may boost their business by maintaining close bilateral ties. 

Mr Sabur called upon Sri Lanka to give duty free market access to pharmaceuticals, jute and jute goods and ceramics of Bangladesh and import these items in large quantity from the country.

He also called for direct marine connectivity of Chittagong and Mongla ports with Colombo and Trincomalee ports of Sri Lanka to boost bilateral trade. 

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations in 1972. 

BBN/SSR/AD-14Mar13-10:05 am (BST)