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 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.