Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka will pay a working visit to Myanmar in the near future, an official announcement said here Friday without giving the date of the visit.
Wickramanayaka will be the second Sri Lankan prime minister to visit Myanmar since Mahinda Rajapaksa came to the country last time in December 2004, before which there had been no high-level visits between the two countries in nearly three decades since 1976.
During Rajapaksa's visit, Myanmar agreed to export 2,000 tons of rice to Sri Lanka to help solve the latter's rice shortage.
Earlier in February 1996, the two countries established a Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, and Sri Lanka has so far injected one million U.S. dollars 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.
Later in November this year, Myanmar agreed with Sri Lanka to establish direct air and sea links to effectively boost bilateral trade ties as proposed by Sri Lanka.
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.
Myanmar and Sri Lanka are members of the sub-regional 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.