Qatar-Sri Lanka economic ties enter defining moment: Envoy

Monday, 17 September 2018 00:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

DOHA: Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Qatar, A.S.P. Liyanage, has said the bilateral relations between Qatar and Sri Lanka in terms of trade, investment, tourism and other activities will be further bolstered by the launch of the Sri Lanka Qatar Business Council.

The soon-to-be-launched council will offer unique opportunities for both countries to engage with each other, where Qatar-based entrepreneurs can explore opportunities in major areas such as investments, food and agriculture, hospitality, oil and gas, infrastructure, tourism and trade services.

“I am pleased to inform that the Sri Lankan Embassy in Qatar, under the guidance of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, with the support of Doha Bank, has made arrangements to form the Sri Lanka Qatar Business Council, which will enable the improvement of bilateral relations between the two countries,” the Ambassador said, while addressing a knowledge-sharing session hosted by Doha Bank on ‘Qatar-Sri Lanka Bilateral Opportunities’ here on 13 September.

Sri Lanka’s Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy said Qatar and Sri Lankan banks had excellent relationships and Sri Lanka wanted to take things to the next level. Qatar is a key contributor to Sri Lanka’s remittances, he revealed.

Sri Lanka’s economic growth was at 3.3% in 2017 and would be returning to 4% by end of this year. The outlook for Sri Lanka remains strong with improved macroeconomic conditions.

The economy is expected to rebound toward a higher growth path in the medium term with the implementation of policy reforms by the Government. Inflation is expected to remain within the targeted band of 4-6%. The Central Bank is moving towards Flexible Inflation Targeting (FIT) by 2020.

He said fiscal consolidation efforts were expected to bring down the budget deficit to 3.5% by 2020 while both the current account and primary balances were expected to be surpluses. The external sector strengthened with a higher level of international reserves underpinned by a better export performance, a flexible exchange rate policy and continuous inflows to the financial account.

The Government’s Economic Vision seeks to transform Sri Lanka into a hub of the Indian Ocean.

Commenting on Qatar’s economic growth, Doha Bank CEO Dr. R. Seetharaman said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was set to grow 2.6% this year. Responding to the blockade, Qatar has emerged strong and has brought various reforms to transform itself into a self-reliant economy.

In 2017 Qatar waived entry visa requirements for citizens of 80 countries. The upcoming law on foreign investment will allow non-Qatari businesses to have 100% capital in companies if they can evidence interest from Sri Lankan investors.

Dr. Seetharaman said Sri Lanka’s Vision 2025 program was aimed at positioning the country as an export hub in the Indian Ocean. As per Vision 2025, concrete steps will be taken to move from exporting mainly low-tech products to high-tech products and attracting investments.

He said the past three years witnessed a further strengthening in diplomatic relationships between Qatar and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has enjoyed close ties with Qatar, with over 140,000 Sri Lankans in Qatar. Sri Lanka is capable of lending enormous support to Qatar’s food security program.

Sri Lankan companies are looking to take part in Qatari projects and establish joint ventures in various sectors. Qatari corporates can also explore opportunities in Sri Lanka‘s infrastructure and energy sector, he added.

Sri Lanka Public Debt Department Superintendent and Registrar Dr. Mohamed Z.M. Aazim said the country’s financial sector remained resilient with a strengthened regulatory and supervisory framework in line with international standards and best practices.

“Since domestic demand was insufficient to achieve high economic growth, the export orientation of the economy was being enhanced, with conducive trade and investment policies, including the better utilisation of existing trade agreements, establishment of new trade links and a competitive exchange rate policy.

“Government had already provided policy and institutional support to improve external trade. Free Trade Agreements will serve as a gateway to larger markets. The scope of the goods-based agreement with India will be expanded to include a comprehensive partnership agreement,” he said.

Trade arrangements with India, China and the EU will differentiate Sri Lanka from many of its peers, with wider access to fast-growing markets and thereby benefiting and accelerating its growth potential. The IMF acknowledged the progress made by Sri Lanka to stabilise the economy and support growth, he stressed. (Source: