Lanka-EU trade climbs close to $ 5 b

Monday, 24 June 2013 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

As bilateral trade volume closes in on the crucial $ 5 b mark, historic dialogue between Sri Lanka and the European Union appears to have been bolstered even further. “We look for better trade levels and also thank the EU for its ongoing support,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on Thursday. Bathiudeen was addressing Head of the Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives from the European Commission Ambassador Bernard Savage during his farewell courtesy call on Bathiudeen at the EDB premises, Colombo. Also present on the occasion were Ministry of Industry and Commerce Secretary Anura Siriwardena and DG – Commerce P.D. Fernando, among others. According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, there is an increasing trend in trade and the balance of trade between the two parties has been in favour of Sri Lanka during the last nine years. Total trade between Sri Lanka and the EU which was at $ 3 b in 2004 rose to $ 4,946.18 m in 2012. Sri Lanka’s major export items to EU are apparel, diamonds, tea and rubber products. The EU is also one of the most diversified investors in Sri Lanka, with leading European companies operating in almost all sectors of economy, especially FMCG, higher education, apparel, infrastructure, manufacturing, agro, technology and even in strategic development projects. EU multinationals such as Unilever and British American Tobacco are well embedded in the Sri Lankan lifestyle with their decades-long FMCG presence. The UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France and Sweden are the leading EU members with investments in Sri Lanka. The EU’s specific investment segments include hosiery, knitwear, surf sails, electronic products, light engineering, rubber-based products, (e.g. tyres), coir-based products, gem and jewellery, diamond processing, tourism and recreational products, security printing, infrastructure development, activated carbon, food processing, computer software, ICT, etc. “The EU is our number one global trade partner. Our bilateral trade volumes show continuous growth and it has become a major element in our relations. We look for better trade levels and also thank EU for its ongoing support not only on trade aspects but even in various development initiatives here,” said Minister Bathiudeen.“It’s been a pleasure to work with you and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” said Savage. “Our cooperation with Sri Lanka is wide-ranging, including in assistance in tsunami and development. Even bilateral trade levels are showing a rising trend.” According to the EU Delegation, more than $ 148 m has been earmarked for Sri Lanka under the 2007-2013 ‘Development Cooperation Instrument’.