“China second largest supplier to Sri Lanka”: Rishad in Kunming

Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:51 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Thanks China for honouring official request in Kunming
  • Bilateral trade tops $ 3 b in 2013
China has become Sri Lanka’s second largest supplier of goods and the forthcoming FTA with China signifies the strategic importance of bilateral cooperation efforts. Meanwhile, China’s Yunnan Province called for newer avenues of trade with South Asia – including in energy. “China has emerged as the second largest supplier to Sri Lanka accounting for 17% of Sri Lanka’s total imports. The China-Sri Lanka Bilateral relations have been upgraded to strategic partnership and the forthcoming FTA remains an integral part of this historic partnership,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka Rishad Bathiudeen on 7 June. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the ninth China-South Asia Business Forum in Kunming on 7 June which was held as part of the second China – South Asia Expo and 22nd Kunming Fair. Also joining the panel session were Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Pakistan Council on China Executive Director Fazal ur Rahman, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Ismail Asif and Yunnan International Exhibition Bureau Head Li Jiming. The total trade turnover between China and South Asia which stood at $ 35 billion in 2006 rose to $ 92 billion in 2012. Yunnan Province exports mechanical and electrical commodities to South Asia while importing resource products. Li Jiming agreed with the view that SAARC countries in the region need to deepen cooperation with Yunnan in new fields, such as energy, education, tourism and transportation. “Sri Lanka has been participating in this fair since 2007 when this was held for the first time in Beijing. Sri Lanka requested China to host this as an annual event and welcomed the proposal to hold the fair in Kunming from 2008. Thereafter in 2009, 64 Lankan companies took part in this exhibition and today I am delighted to note that 118 companies and businesses from Sri Lanka are participating this year,” said Minister Bathiudeen addressing the event, and added: “These companies represent such sectors as tea, gem and jewelry, arts, crafts and handicrafts, coconut fibre, herbal products, and even gem cutting and polishing sector. “On behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka I consider it is my duty, as the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka to extend our profuse gratitude and appreciation for the continuous support extended by the government of China to Sri Lanka to promote bilateral trade exchanges, in particular, identifying new export avenues with new partners in Yunnan Province through this international level exposition. In fact, I am thankful to the Government of China for honouring my official request during my visit in 2012 to this same exhibition. During that visit I made the request to Gu Zhaoxi, the Deputy Governor of People’s Government of Yunnan Province on the quarantining of Sri Lankan perishable exports to China. “As a result, I am pleased to state that an official quarantine study team from ‘Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine’ has arrived in Sri Lanka this February and successfully completed its study in March. From a historical perspective, evidence suggests that the China–Sri Lanka trade and political relations were very strong dating back to the times of ancient kingdoms. China always remained a friend of Sri Lanka in hours of need. In the present day context, China is one of the top trade and development partners of Sri Lanka.  China has emerged as the 2nd largest supplier to Sri Lanka accounting for 17% of Sri Lanka’s total imports. “Sri Lanka imports a substantial quantity of raw materials and intermediate products. The total trade turnover between the two countries which stood at $ 658.94 million in 2005 has increased up to $ 3,084.22 million by 2013, registering almost five-fold trade growth. I wish to express my deep gratitude to the Chinese government for  extending  fund assistance to develop Sri Lanka’s much needed export-oriented critical infrastructure such as highways and ports and airports which as you aware, are essential components in realising the committed vision of our President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. In the recent times, it is significant that China - Sri Lanka Bilateral relations have been upgraded to strategic partnership and the forthcoming FTA remains an integral part of this historic partnership.”