Iraq, bulk of whose imports from Sri Lanka are Pure Ceylon Tea, is now eager for more and more Sri Lankan products. ‘Apart from Pure Ceylon Tea, we now want Sri Lankan apparels and raw rubber, none of which are being produced in Iraq,’ revealed Iraqi Ambassador to Sri Lanka Kahtan Taha Khalaf on 21 June.
|Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen discusses with Iraqi Ambassador to Sri Lanka Kahtan Taha Khalaf yesterday
Kahtan Taha Khalaf was apprising Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen during his courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce on 21 June. “We really like Pure Ceylon Tea, which is the bulk of our imports from Sri Lanka. We now look for Sri Lankan apparels and raw rubber in strong volumes. There is no home production of either of these in Iraq. We import all our requirements of garments and rubber. We also invite Sri Lankan investors and businessmen to visit Iraq,” Kahtan Taha Khalaf said.
“We also invite strong business delegation to Baghdad Int’l Fair 2012 to be held in November,” he added. Minister Bathiudeen said: “Our apparels have become a major export item as well as item of Sri Lanka Branding in global markets. In April this year we exported $ 295.5 million apparels. I invite Iraqi garment sales businesses and investors to Sri Lanka to invest here and begin joint ventures in apparel manufacturing. We also are able to supply your rubber needs but as per our export policy, we can abundantly supply the Iraqi markets with our value added rubber products. And we are looking forward to send a strong Sri Lankan trade and biz delegation to the Baghdad International Fair 2012.” Bilateral trade between the two countries which stood at $ 8.76 million in 2003 had reached $ 37.5 million in 2009 with 98% of it being tea exports to Iraq. Sri Lanka was the major supplier of tea to Iraq with 65% of the total annual intake of our tea by Iraq until 1990. Currently, more than 90% of Sri Lanka exports to Iraq consist of tea. The seventh session of the Sri Lanka-Iraq Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation, which was held in Colombo 21-22 October 2010, concluded successfully with the establishment of Committees to study various areas of cooperation.