Lanka fully committed to SAARC integration: Rishad

Monday, 20 January 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Exports to SAARC rises by 1132% 100Says SAFTA, SATIS strong mechanisms to coordinate with SAARC
Sri Lanka is fully committed to SAARC regional integration and the country’s liberal business policies are helping it climb the international business rankings. “Sri Lanka remains fully committed and supportive of the objectives of enhancing the program of regional economic integration within SAARC. An overall business and investor friendly environment helps us in climbing the doing business index ranks,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the concluding session of fifth SAARC Business Conclave held in New Delhi on 17 January. Commerce Ministers from all SAARC countries were in attendance at this session. By 2012, Sri Lanka’s Cumulative trade under SAFTA from July 2006 stood at $ 2.34 billion despite Sri Lanka’s exports to SAFTA growing by 1132% from 2007 to 2012. Lanka’s cumulative exports under SAFTA from 2007 to 2012 stood at $ 1.533 billion. Sri Lanka is continuously experiencing a negative trade balance under SAFTA. “Our initiatives on SAFTA and SATIS are strong mechanisms to coordinate within SAARC. We believe that we need to study SATIS further. By identifying strengths of each country and avoiding export product duplication, we can position us for better coordination with SAARC. Since Sri Lanka is an island nation, we also can strengthen air and maritime cooperation within SAARC for better cooperation. Due to our hub position, Sri Lanka can play a bigger role in SAARC supply chain as well. As a representative of a high growth middle income economy in South Asia, I praise this event for bringing numerous and promising opportunities to the keen participants,” said Minister Bathiudeen. I am pleased to say that in fact, in addition to our growth prospects, Sri Lanka is also placed strongly on the doing business index ranking. In the latest Doing Business Index, Sri Lanka has been ranked 84. There are many reasons for this strong performance. Our government’s liberal economic policies have helped us to be ranked strongly. Also, I am pleased to say that speeding up business registration by the Board of Investment, bilateral investment protection treaties with more than 20 countries and an overall business and investor friendly environment helps us in climbing the doing business index ranks. Therefore I firmly believe that this is the right time for our regional business community to closely look at Sri Lanka to explore the available opportunities and today warmly extend my invitation to you too, to do so. I wish to convey that Sri Lanka remains fully committed, and supportive of the objectives of enhancing the programme of regional economic integration within SAARC,” the Minister added.