Sri Lanka-Turkey trade talks resume in Ankara after 26 years

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • ‘We meet at a momentous time after 26 years’: Rishad
  • Second SL-Turkey trade talks successfully conclude in Ankara
  • ‘Bigger benefits due to our India, Pakistan FTAs & ETCA’: Rishad 
  • ‘Let us move to $ 500 m by 2020’: Turkey’s Ismet Yilmaz 

As bilateral trade surged by more than 130%, trade talks between Turkey and Sri Lanka re-opened on 11 November in Ankara – after 26 years. Turkey has also been invited by Sri Lanka to exploit Sri Lanka’s present and future trade agreements with South Asia, for bigger trade gains. 

“Turkey is a very important trading partner for Sri Lanka. The strong relationship between the two countries has grown steadily over the past years,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 11 November in Ankara.

Minister Bathiudeen was delivering his opening statement at the second session of the Sri Lanka-Turkey Joint Committee Meeting of Technical and Economic Cooperation. He led the Lankan delegation to Ankara while the Turkish side was led by Minister of Education of Turkey Ismet Yilmaz. In 2015, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $ 230 million.

“Sri Lanka and Turkey have enjoyed 68 years of formally established diplomatic relations in the recent history. The initiative to establish the Sri Lanka-Turkey Joint Committee in 1991, is a landmark in our partnership,” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “The first round of Sri Lanka Turkey Joint Committee on Technical and Economic Cooperation after 26 years takes place at a momentous time in Sir Lanka when Sri Lanka is pursuing an open and transparent agenda to strengthen democracy and its structures and the rule of law to ensure that the fruits of democracy peace and prosperity are enjoyed by its people. On the economic front Sri Lanka being a founder member of the GATT as well as WTO, has been fully committed to liberal and market oriented economic policies. 

03Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (left) and Minister of Education of Turkey Ismet Yilmaz (second from left) at the second joint trade talk session between Sri Lanka and Turkey in Ankara on 11 November  

“Sri Lanka’s location in the heart of the Indian Ocean straddling Western and Eastern Asia has made us beneficiaries of inter-regional trade for centuries. The strategic importance of Sri Lanka as a regional hub in the realm of global commercial activity has been widely acknowledged. With two billion-population, South Asia is also a considerable market with growing significance. Sri Lanka has already Free Trade Agreements with Pakistan and India. As a member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Sri Lanka also enjoys free trading facilities with other South Asian countries under South Asian Free Trade Area. 

“In order to further deepen economic ties existing with India, Sri Lanka will be entering into an agreement on Economic and Technology Cooperation (ETCA) which seeks to boost cooperation in technical areas, scientific expertise and research amongst institutions, boost standards of goods and services able to compete on the global market and improve opportunities for manpower training and human resource development. At the moment negotiations are also underway to conclude free trade agreements with China and Singapore. 

“It is evident that through these agreements Sri Lanka provides a stepping stone to reach out to a huge market. The value of total trade turnover between the two countries has increased from $ 97 million in 2005 to $ 230 million in 2015. Tea is a major item and the value of tea export to Turkey in 2015 accounted for 76% of Sri Lanka’s total exports. The value of Sri Lanka’s imports from Turkey has also been increased in the recent years reaching $ 50 million in 2015. The major items of imports from Turkey are plastics, miscellaneous edible preparations. Turkey invested $ 2.5 million FDI in Sri Lanka from 2010 to 2015 and ranks 45th position among FDI sourcing countries to Sri Lanka. Tourism is another area that brought people to people contacts as Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul to Colombo direct.”  

“Let us target trade volume to $ 500 million by 2020,” said the Turkish Minister Ismet Yilmaz and added: “Relations between both countries span a broad range of aspects. During today’s meeting we finalised many areas of cooperation, which is a positive development.”

Bilateral trade between the two countries is on a growing trend, registering an increase of around 135% by 2015 when compared to 2005.