(UTV|COLOMBO) – The Gulf region’s most competitive economy is upbeat on its future trade prospects with Sri Lanka.
“The two countries have to consolidate the already strong bilateral relations. A number of joint venture trade projects are being implemented between both countries” announced Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka Abdulhamid Abdulfattah Kazim Al- Mulla on 1 December in Colombo. Ambassador Al-Mulla was addressing the 76th National Day Celebrations of UAE in Colombo on 1 December at Shangri-La Hotel. Joining the occasion were President Maithripala Sirisena, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha, Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage, and even several Lankan MPs.
“Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates enjoy diplomatic relations since 1979.There are over 122,000 Sri Lankans living and working in the UAE. I express my sincere appreciation to the UAE Government for providing employment opportunities for those Sri Lankans and making every effort to look after their welfare” said Minister Bathiudeen addressing the evening event, and added: “The total trade turnover was US$ 1.3 billion in 2016 and US$ 1.18 billion in the first half of 2017. There is great potential for us to export higher volumes and high value added products to the UAE. Sri Lanka has keen interest in inviting the UAE investors to invest in Sri Lanka especially in infrastructure projects as Sri Lanka is transforming itself as a hub in the Indian Ocean. You will agree with me that currently the global political and economic balance of power is undergoing key shifts and major re-adjustments are in the offing. For the first time in five centuries economic power in the world is moving again towards Asia. Our vision is to make Sri Lanka a prosperous nation by 2025. We will do so by transforming Sri Lanka into the hub of the Indian Ocean with a knowledge-based highly competitive social-market economy. We invite the UAE to be a strong partner in achieving our targets.”
In the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18 UAE topped the Arab world and ranked 17th in Global Competitiveness Ranking. The report also placed UAE among the top 20 competitive economies globally for the fifth consecutive year. UAE has been one of the largest investors in Sri Lanka among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies, investing over US$ 385 Mn in FDI since 2012.
“UAE national day is also about celebrating a leadership which forever stands ready to invest in its people -to achieve distinction, stability and sustainable development. Our citizens are our future” said Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka Abdulhamid Abdulfattah Kazim Al- Mull and added: “The two countries have to consolidate the already strong bilateral relations. The visit of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of UAE to Sri Lanka this November further strengthened bilateral cooperation in areas of common interest. A number of joint venture trade projects are being implemented between both countries and they will strengthen relations between both countries even more.”
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka under Minister Bathiudeen, in both 2015 and 2016 total trade between UAE and Sri Lanka was at $ 1.34 Bn and upto August this year, it totalled $1.8 Bn. Tea, apparel, and natural rubber were the three major export commodities from Sri Lanka to UAE last year. At a quarter of all exports (at $73 Mn), tea was Sri Lanka’s major export to UAE. Petroleum oil was the biggest import from UAE taking 46% of all imports (at US $ 489 Mn) followed by gold (at 13.4% of all imports).
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