Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 May 2011





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Iranian business delegation invited to Expo 2012

Trade Ministers of Sri Lanka and Iran discussed increasing bilateral trade between the two countries by resolving existing issues. Minister Rishad Bathiudeen attended the bilateral meeting with his counterpart in Iran, Minister of Commerce of the Islamic Republic of Iran Dr. Mehdi Ghazanfari last week.

At the discussion the ministers reaffirmed historic relations between the countries and highlighted the importance of further boosting trade cooperation which currently stands at US $ 800 million. Minister Bathiudeen drew his Iranian counterpart's attention to a number of issues pertinent to Sri Lankan exports. He requested the relaxing of regulations on the import of the minimum weight from 10kgs at least to five kgs. for pre-packed tea.

This will help our tea industry as well as the Iranian consumer, the Minister said.

Minister Bathiudeen also highlighted the importance for protection of the Ceylon Tea trademark in Iran under applicable laws of Iran as there is growing evidence of counterfeit Ceylon Tea in Iranian markets.

High documentation costs applicable in exporting to Iran was also highlighted. "I would like you to personally assist us to reduce the cost of documents for legalisation of export documents or alternatively, reduce the number of documents to be legalised so that bilateral trade growth will continue smoothly," Minister Bathiudeen said.

The ministers discussed co-operation in the shipping industry and the strengthening of Sri Lanka's shipping industry. They also reviewed the progress of the ninth session of the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation which was held in Colombo in 2010 and agreed to have an official level delegation to Iran before the next formal session to be hosted in Iran headed by the ministers.

"I invite a high level business delegation from Iran to Sri Lanka's mega export show - Sri Lanka Expo 2012 to be held early 2012. Iran and Sri Lanka have enjoyed excellent bilateral relations on the pillars of friendship and mutual cooperation. Our relations have always been cordial and congenial", Bathiudeen said.

Speaking on the economic outlook of Sri Lanka, Minister Bathiudeen said, "Under the able leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, our country shows strong development potential while reporting encouraging growth data. Sri Lanka has recorded a promising 8.1 percent economic growth in 2010 and is expected to grow even faster in the coming years at an estimated 9 percent in 2012 to 2013.

The two-way trade volume which is over US $ 800 million makes Iran Sri Lanka's seventh largest trading partner. Iran was the 4th largest supplier of petroleum oil to Sri Lanka in 2009, which constituted 99 percent of total imports from Iran.

Over 50,000 MT of Ceylon tea is exported to Iran annually, in both direct and indirect ways, making Sri Lankan tea almost half of the tea market demand in Iran. Also, 95 percent of Iran-Sri Lanka trade is concentrated on the two products - namely crude oil from Iran and tea from Sri Lanka.

The Iranian Minister agreed that the countries should make concerted efforts to diversify into each other's export baskets.



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