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Sri Lanka, Iran revive trade agreements

Official level discussions have commenced between Sri Lanka and Iran on reviving trade agreements that were signed between the two countries and will be put into operation soon after ironing out technicalities, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen said.

Discussions between the two countries took place after economic sanctions placed on Iran were lifted early this year.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, the Minister said, "Official discussions are going on at Secretary and Director General level and soon the parties will reach agreement on an action plan."

Over eighty percent of our exports to Iran comprises tea and due to economic sanctions, tea exporters were heavily affected, he said.

"Iran was one of our main tea export destinations and we have been importing oil from Iran. We have had several joint economic commissions. One such meeting was also held in Colombo recently.

After sanctions were imposed, there were difficulties with regard to payment. Some of our exporters had difficulties in receiving payment. These things will be considered first."

The trade agreement which was signed way back in 2004 was unable to take off after sanctions were imposed by the United States, United Nations and the European Union after UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) found that the country did not comply with its international obligations.

However, Iran was eager to resume trade between the countries soon after the sanctions were lifted early this year.

Meanwhile Deputy Minister of Plantation Industry Lakshman Wasantha Perera said that the Ministry is making deliberations to restart tea exports to Iran.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer the Deputy Minister said that it was the intention of the Ministry to start tea exports as earliest as possible.

He further said that discussions are currently being held on finding solutions to the technical difficulties arising in giving life to an agreement which has time lapsed.

He further went on to say that both parties are hopeful in getting the trades up and running.

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