Myanmar has agreed with Sri Lanka to establish direct air and sea links to effectively boost their bilateral trade ties, the local weekly Myanmar Times reported Monday.
Currently, trade between Myanmar and Sri Lanka is transacted through Singapore.
According to the Directorate of Trade under the Ministry of Commerce, Sri Lanka mainly imports forestry products and beans and pulses from Myanmar via brokers in Singapore and the country has expressed interest in also importing Myanmar gems and selling its own products in the Myanmar markets.
In December 2004, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Yangon for the first time as a Sri Lankan leader in nearly three decades since 1976, during which Myanmar agreed to export 2, 000 tons of rice to Sri Lanka to help solve its rice shortage.
In February 1996, the two countries established the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation and so far, Sri Lanka has injected 1 million US dollars of investment in Myanmar since 1988, official statistics show.
Meanwhile, indirect air link exists between the two countries via Bangkok with Sri Lankan Airlines connecting the Bangkok flights of the Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and the Thai Airways International (TG) and transiting passengers from Yangon to Colombo.
Myanmar and Sri Lanka are members of the subregional grouping of BIMST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand- Economic Cooperation), which was originally formed with four members in June 1997 and later joined by Myanmar in August the same year.
The grouping expanded its membership to include Nepal and Bhutan at the first BIMST-EC summit in Bangkok in July 2004.