Wednesday, 11 June 2014 00:00
“Why not bring a Lankan delegation for talks”: Ambassador Chang
“Time to explore and exploit FTA route!”: Rishad
80 Korean investment projects in Sri Lanka
2013 trade rise to $ 377 m, exports to Korea jump by 78%!
“Lankan workers do a good job in Korea”: Ambassador Chang
The 15th largest economy in the world and also a G20 nation signalled its readiness towards first ever Joint Economic mechanism with Sri Lanka and also strongly praised Sri Lankan migrant workers’ contribution to its economy. “We too want to further strengthen our trade, economic and investment relationship with Sri Lanka. We are pleased of your suggestion towards a Joint Working Group with us,” said a pleased Won-sam Chang, Ambassador of Korea to Colombo on 3 June in Colombo.
Ambassador Chang was making a courtesy call on Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka Rishad Bathiudeen on 3 June at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo 3. Also joining Minister Bathiudeen was Department of Commerce Director General R.D.S. Kumararatne. Sri Lanka has both Double Taxation Avoidance and Investment Protection Agreements with Republic of Korea. In April 2012, three MoUs were signed between Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Korea.
The three MoUs spanned Economic and Technical Co-operation, Information Technology and Power & Energy. On this occasion, Korea also pledged to renew $ 200 million financial and technical assistance to Sri Lanka’s soci-economic development efforts. Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Korea stood at $ 377 million in 2013 and it has been growing for the last few years.
Sri Lanka’s exports to Korea jumped by 78% to $ 78.6 million in 2013 from 2012’s $ 44 million! Total bilateral trade since 2009 rose by 87% to $ 377 million in 2013. South Korea’s per capita income has registered a continuous increase to $ 33,100 levels-and thereby is closing in on the per capita levels of such economies as France and Japan. According BoI, by the end of 2012, a total of 80 Korean investment projects to the tune of $ 58.21 million in investments were operative in Sri Lanka.
Addressing Ambassador Chang, Minister Bathiudeen said: “Since we established diplomatic ties with Korea in 1977, our bilateral relations improved and is multifaceted today. We want to further strengthen our trade, economic and investment relationship with Sri Lanka. The total bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Korea is US$ 377 million in 2013 and it has been growing for the last few years. However, I wish to inform Your Excellency that the trade balance is highly in favour of Korea. Exports from Sri Lanka also shown a remarkable growth for the last three years and in 2013 we exported $ 78 million of goods to Korea while our imports stood at $ 299 million.
“More importantly, I suggest that Korea and Sri Lanka could explore the possibility of establishing a Joint Commissions on Trade and Economic Co-operation (JEC) between the two countries which I believe could facilitate more inter-governmental mechanism in exploring ways and means in strengthening bilateral trade and commercial relations between the two countries. A JEC with Korea could be the initial steps towards a possible Sri Lanka-Korea FTA and the more than one billion Indian and Pakistani markets for Korean manufacturers through Sri Lanka’s FTAs – ISFTA and PSFTA – with them.”
“We too are happy of the strong improvements in our bilateral relations which has become more multifaceted,” said Ambassador Chang, responding to Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “We too want to further strengthen our trade, economic and investment relationship with Sri Lanka. We are pleased of your suggestion towards a Joint Working Group with us and this is a suggestion that we view favourably. I suggest Minister Bathiudeen to visit Korea in the near future leading a strong Lankan delegation and meet your counterpart Minister in Korea to begin discussions on formally establishing the Joint Working Group, which will help in bigger bilateral trade between both countries. I also praise the strong contribution to Korean economy made by Sri Lankan migrant workers in Korea.”
Both Minister Bathiudeen and Ambassador Chang also explored other ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries on 3 June.