Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh and Turkey have agreed to introduce direct air and banking links between the two countries at the earliest possible time to promote bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

The two sides also underscored the need for direct shipping link, as a protocol was signed between the two countries in Ankara, Turkey on Thursday.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Turkish Minister of State Mehmet Aydin signed the protocol on the concluding day of the third session of Bangladesh-Turkey Joint Commission for Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation (JEC) held November 18-19.

The two sides agreed to cooperate with each other so they could raise the bilateral trade to US$ 1.0 billion in the shortest possible time, according to the protocol.

To achieve the target, they agreed to encourage their designated airlines to start direct flight between Bangladesh and Turkey at the earliest possible time under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 1997.

The two countries would also consider establishing direct banking links through state-owned banks, suitable private banks or other financial institutions on a priority basis.

The countries have agreed to exchange representatives from pharmaceutical sector to explore the possibility of importing and exporting medicines from and to Bangladesh at the earliest possible time.

Cooperation in transportation, communications and tourism, in the field of agriculture and cultural and educational sector have been agreed by the countries that have age-old historical, religious and cultural ties.

The two sides also agreed to explore the possibilities of joint venture in the fields of shipbuilding, heavy machinery industries, electronic appliances, textiles, pharmaceuticals, RMG, jute and jute products, and petrochemical products.

The two countries decided to hold the next meeting of the JEC in Bangladesh at a time to be mutually agreed upon.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-20November09-11:51 pm (BST)