Both Qatar and Sri Lanka vowed to break their present low trade threshold and to move towards bigger targets today at the closing of the two-day trade talks in Colombo.
A high-level trade delegation led by Qatari Minister of Economy & Commerce Sheikh Ahmad Bin Jassim Bin Mohammed Al Thani participated in the second Qatar-Sri Lanka Joint Committee for Economic, Commercial and Technical Cooperation commenced in Colombo on Monday (30th October).
Sri Lankan Minister of industry and commerce Rishad Bathiudeen led the Sri Lankan side in the two-day discussions.
“I am sure that the two day discussions in Colombo will help enhance our bilateral trade beyond the present US$ 45 million levels,” Minister Bathiudeen said addressing the closing session today.
“Following the conclusion of last week’s high level bilateral meetings in Doha the time has come for us to have a fresh look at our trade relations and to widen it,” said the Sri Lankan Minister.
The Minister said the two day discussions were fruitful and resulted in many positive outcomes on a number of mutual areas of cooperation including power and energy, aviation, hospitality industry, and agriculture. “Especially discussions on using Qatari LNG gas for cleaner energy in Sri Lanka are a new aspect at this session,” he added.
Qatari Minister Jassim Al Thani addressing the closing session said that through this joint trade mechanism, Qatar looks forward to enhance bilateral trade.
“We look forward through this Committee to increase the volume of trade and to establish effective plans that serve our investment goals,” said Qatari Minister Al Thani Al Thani.
The volume of trade exchange between the two countries reached Qatari Riyals 223 million (US$ 59 million) in 2016. In addition, there are 210 Lankan companies established in partnership with the Qatari side with a capital of 45.5 million Qatari Riyals.
The Qatari Minister noted that the Agreement and the MoUs signed between the two countries played an important role in strengthening the economic relations.
“Therefore Qatar considers Sri Lanka as an important investment and trade partner in the light of economic potential which will lead us to put a number of vital sectors on the map of joint cooperation in the next phase, notably the Agricultural sector. We also look forward to further activating relations between the private sector and businessmen from both sides and enabling them to play a bigger role. Qatar, through the Port of Hamad has succeeded in developing direct commercial lines with a number of strategic ports and shipping services provided by the national carrier to more than 150 destinations around the world.”
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka (DoCSL) the two-way trade between Sri Lanka and Qatar averaged around US$ 45 million I 2016. While Sri Lanka’s exports to Qatar was at US$ 15 million Qatar’s exports to Sri Lanka remained at US$ 30 million. While Sri Lanka’s imports from Qatar have primarily been Polymers of ethylene, 37% of Sri Lanka’s exports to Qatar were Bananas followed by food preparations, Tea, tires and vegetables.
The DoCSL has noted that the limited export baskets of the two countries “have been a major barrier to trade development between both countries.”