President Maithripala Sirisena’s forthcoming tour of Iran could open many new doors of opportunities for Lankan businesses” said an upbeat Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo recently.
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing a team of officials from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce including the Department of Commerce, EDB, the BoI, Tea Board, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber of Commerce, and Foreign Ministry on 3 January at his Ministry premises. The session was none other than the preparatory meeting with top officials to formulate a high powered Sri Lankan business delegation to accompany President Maithripala Sirisena’s tour of Iran planned later this month. The objective of the visit is to explore bilateral trade, investment and tourism potentials topped up by a Business Forum. Joining the session was Deputy Head of Mission of Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran in Colombo, M R Ahmadi. Minister Bathiudeen is scheduled to lead the Lankan business delegation.
“Iran - Sri Lanka relations have strengthened in the recent years but bilateral trade growth has not met our expectations despite end of sanctions. In fact, in 2015, our total trade with Iran was $162 Mn, a small amount in comparison to previously higher trade levels. HE President Maithripala Sirisena’s forthcoming tour of Iran could open many new doors for Lankan businesses and get bilateral trade levels back on track. Therefore let us collaborate for a strong trade delegation to Iran consisting of representatives from Lankan exporters, importers, manufacturers and service providers so that Sri Lanka can leverage this opportunity. I believe that we should not send only a business delegation and just make speeches but also should make joint business presentations with our Chambers to Iranian investors and also schedule several B2Bs so that this visit is leveraged well for the business sector of the country.”
Deputy Head of Mission of Embassy of Iran in Colombo, M R Ahmadi stressed of the surging interest at Iranian side on the forthcoming meet. “Our Ministry of Industry and Commerce and business Chambers also started work on your arrival in Tehran” said Deputy Head of Mission of Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran in Colombo, M R Ahmadi and added: “We look forward to explore a wide range of sectors for cooperation during this meet. We believe the planned Business Forum during this event could also bring in new openings.”
Prior to sanctions, bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Iran stood at a huge $ 1.6 Billion (2011), but in 2015 it totaled $162 Mn, of which $155 Mn were exports to Iran from Sri Lanka. 85% of such exports were Ceylon Tea, followed by coconuts, bananas, spices etc. Minister Bathiudeen and the Department of Commerce believe that there exists great future potential for Sri Lankan made apparel, rubber products, gem and jewelry, and food & beverages.