A Portsmouth Bangladesh Business Association has been formed to boost local businesses and strengthen economic ties between the city and Sylhet, one of the major Bangladeshi cities.

The association was formed at a meeting of representatives of Portsmouth City Council, the University of Portsmouth and the local Bangladeshi business community.

One of its immediate goals is a trade mission to Bangladesh to develop links further.

The meeting, at the university's new City Learning Centre, was hosted by Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of the Council, and Bobby Mehta, director of the university's Global Office.

Formation of the association follows a decision by the council last March to make Portsmouth a "sister city" with Sylhet, as a way of boosting business, educational and cultural links between the two communities and celebrating their ties.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson wrote to Ariful Haque Choudhury, Mayor of Sylhet City Corporation, suggesting the sister city link and Mr Choudhury agreed, saying it would be a way of enhancing relations between the two cities and exchanging views on education, culture and technology.

Following the launch of the new association, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: "The Bangladeshi community has long been a very important part of the city, and makes a very significant contribution to our local economy. We want to help Bangladeshi businesses thrive, and also build on the links that Portsmouth has with one of the most dynamic cities and regions in the world."  

Many Bangladeshi families in Portsmouth can trace their origins to the Sylhet region, and many members of the community have connections with the area.

Sylhet is the major city in the north west of Bangladesh. The surrounding area is the country's largest centre for oil, gas and tea production. The city has two universities and was a host to ICC World Twenty20 cricket matches in 2014.