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Yunnan Provincial Government Deputy Secretary-General and Yunnan International Exposition Bureau Director General Li Jiming (seated fourth from right) and his delegation to Sri Lanka meet EDB DG Sujatha Weerakoone (second from left) and Dr. Yousuf Maraikkar (far left) on 13 January at EDB in Colombo
As bilateral trade topped $ 3 billion, Sri Lanka’s exports sector is readying one of the strongest-ever delegations to this year’s Kunming international expo, while Lanka’s second largest global supplier asserted that it is increasingly upbeat on the prospective FTA between both countries.
The $ 190 b Yunnan Province is keen for a Corporate Agreement with Lanka’s apex export entity, a first, as revealed on 13 January.
Yunnan Provincial Government Deputy Secretary-General and Yunnan International Exposition Bureau Director General Li Jiming (far right) seen with a part of his delegation to Sri Lanka on 13 January at the EDB in Colombo
“The pending Sri Lanka-China FTA will be very big news for Chinese buyers and media. China is the only country stipulating imports from its trading partners. This is specially so towards South Asia since we are good neighbours,” said Yunnan Provincial Government Deputy Secretary-General and Yunnan International Exposition Bureau Director General Li Jiming.
Jiming was speaking at his delegation’s meeting with EDB DG Sujatha Weerakoone and other top officials of EDB on 13 January in Colombo. Jiming, who is in charge of tourism, international trade and investment facilitation, is currently leading an eight member trade delegation to Colombo.
Joining Jiming were reps from Yunnain Provincial Energy Investment Group, Yunnan Jinmayuan Real Estate, Hong Kong Oriental Phoenix Development, and reps from Yunnan International Exposition Bureau. Also taking part in the discussions were EDB ADG Jeevany Siriwardene, EDB ED Dr. Yousuf Maraikkar, Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry immediate Past President Macky Hashim and reps from the Sri Lanka Gems and Jewellery Authority and the Chamber of Commerce.
“According to our 2013 statistics, for every dollar we spend on the Sri Lankan market, we earn back 18, but still China insists on imports from its trading partners as well,” said Deputy Secretary-General Jiming.
“That is why we have established the China South Asia Exposition (CSAE). I am very glad to find Sri Lanka one of the best partners for these expositions. In fact Sri Lanka’s EDB is the best organiser among our foreign participants, possibly because unlike many other foreign associations taking part in CSAE, EDB is a Government body and also equipped to have a good presence. The Yunnan Provincial Government therefore is now considering the first-ever Corporate Agreement to enter with Sri Lanka’s EDB, for medium to longer term cooperation. There are many new product sectors being introduced for the first time in CSAE 2015, which is really an international exhibition and not a trade fair. We like to see more exports from Sri Lanka, especially high value products.”
As for exports, in 2013, China became Sri Lanka’s second largest supplier sending $ 3 b of products here, accounting for 17% of Sri Lanka’s total imports. Bilateral trade total with China in 2013 stood at $ 3,081 m. China was the 18th export destination for Sri Lanka with an export value of $ 121 m, contributing 1.2% of total export earnings in 2013. Sri Lanka’s exports to China have grown over the past five years increasing from $ 59 m in 2009 to 2013’s $ 121 m.
Yunnan, the resource rich, $ 190 b provincial GDP southern Chinese Province and a national GDP driver, hosts the China-South Asia Expo and the Kunming Fair in Yunnan’s capital Kunming every year in June. The Kunming Fair has become one of the four top annual events (such as the Canton Fair) in China’s trade calendar.
Due to its high prominence in the trillion dollar GDP nation, the Kunming Fair has become the second biggest annual trade fair in the South West China region. Sri Lanka has consistently been one of the strongest South Asian participants at this expo and has been taking part in this event when it was held for the first time in Beijing in 2007.
“We are currently preparing one of the strongest-ever delegations to this year’s CSAE fair and we also positively view Yunnan Provincial Government’s interest in entering in to a Corporate Agreement with EDB, which enhances bilateral cooperation greatly,” said Weerakoone.
She added: “Under the guidance of President Maithripala Sirisena and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, who is in charge of Sri Lanka’s national exports, this year too EDB is planning a very strong Lankan team to Kunming, with 100 display booths at the fair. There is strong demand for Kunming fair from our exporters. This year the Lankan presence will expand from exports, trade to tourism and investment as well. We also secured special presentation slots at the Kunming Business and Investment Forum.”
On 4 June 2014, Bathiudeen successfully led a Lankan delegation of 119 companies facilitated by the EDB to take part in the second China-South Asia Expo and 22nd Kunming Fair and the Lankan delegation garnered more than $ 4.6 m export orders from this event.