Sri Lanka and Kuwait are to renew joint trade sessions after 15 years. Commenting, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said, “I suggest Sri Lanka and Kuwait to jointly explore the possibility of scheduling the Second Meeting of the Joint Commission established under the 1994 Agreement at an early date.”
|Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (left) meets Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kuwait Anas Al Saleh on 22 April at the Four Seasons Hotel, Doha on the side-lines of the 13th Ministerial Meeting of UNCTAD General Assembly Session
Minister Bathiudeen was apprising Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kuwait Anas Al Saleh on 22 April at the Four Seasons Hotel, Doha, during the Sri Lanka-Qatar bilateral session held on the side-lines of the 13th Ministerial Meeting of UNCTAD General Assembly Session at the Qatari National Convention Centre, Doha, Qatar.
With the objective of promoting trade and economic relations, Sri Lanka and Kuwait signed an Agreement on Trade on 26 April 1994. The Agreement provided for the setting up of a Joint Committee (JC) to propose measures aimed at promoting and expanding trade and economic relations between two countries and settle any disputes or problems that may arise in the implementation of the agreement. The first JC meeting was held in Colombo from 10 to 12 March, 1997 after which no further sessions were held.
“I also like to lead a business delegation when the Second Meeting of the Joint Council takes place in Kuwait,” Minister Bathiudeen added.
Minister Anas Al Saleh stated, “I would indicate the suitable dates for Second Meeting of the Joint Council in due course. I also welcome that idea of Minister Bathiudeen leading a business delegation on the side-lines of the Second Joint Council Meeting.”
The Kuwait Minister added: “I would be happy to facilitate B2B (business to business) meetings between the two sides on this occasion with the assistance of the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce.”
In reply, Minister Bathiudeen said, “Such B2B sessions, if held, will be an important step towards learning each other’s business environments. It will also further strengthen our bilateral trade levels from the current $ 87.9 million. This low trade volume shows unrealised future potential in bilateral trade which we can enhance using 1994 Agreement.”
The two Ministers thereafter discussed other ways and means of promoting Sri Lanka-Kuwaiti bilateral trade cooperation within the context of the 1994 Agreement on Trade.
While Sri Lanka’s exports to Kuwait stood at US $ 42 million in year 2011, Sri Lanka’s imports from Kuwait amounted to US $ 45 million during the same period. Main export items from Sri Lanka to Kuwait include tea, pepper, vegetables, fruits, live plants and flowers, natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones and precious metals, whereas Sri Lanka primarily imports plastics, paper and paper board, articles of paper pulp, mineral fuels, mineral oils, and scrap paper.