Targets increasing trade between the two countries to $500m by 2020
The visit of the State Minister of International Trade of Sri Lanka to Turkey consisted of three different and important sectors. Ankara being the administrative capital of Turkey the first sector of the visit was held there followed by the meetings held in the country’s commercial hub Istanbul and then Izmir, where the Annual International Trade Fair is held every summer. Senasinghe was accompanied by the representatives from the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Export Development Board and the Joint Apparel Association Forum of Sri Lanka.
On 14 August, the State Minister and the delegation paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Trade and Customs of Turkey and also had a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Economy of Turkey and the senior officials of the Ministry. With the Turkish Ministers, Senasinghe highlighted the importance of further strengthening of existing trade relations between the two countries and the significance of realising the set target of bilateral trade volume of $ 500 million by year 2020 as agreed by the both sides at the first session of the Sri Lanka Turkey Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation which was held in November 2016 in Ankara.
In this regard, he especially encouraged cooperation in the sectors of tea, textile and apparel, boat and yacht building and gems and jewellery. The Deputy Minister explained the initiatives taken by the Government to implement a fast-track economic development in Sri Lanka. While inviting Turkey to invest in Sri Lanka , the State Minister emphasised on the fact that Sri Lanka could be used as a transit point to reach a huge customer base utilising the benefits of free trade agreements Sri Lanka already has and will conclude in the near future with several countries.
The Minister of Customs and Trade of Turkey pledged Turkey’s commitment towards expanding bilateral trade relations with Sri Lanka. Senasinghe assured the Turkish side that Sri Lanka, during the month of August 2017 will complete the necessary prerequisites in respect of the proposed Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters between Sri Lanka and Turkey, paving the way for conclusion of the said agreement at the earliest.
At the meeting with the Deputy Minister of Economy, both sides agreed that early conclusion of the proposed agreements on Prevention of Double Taxation, Promotion and Protection of Investment and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters is imperative in the drive for increasing of bilateral trade volume between the two countries. The State Minister conveyed to the Turkish side that he will pay personal attention to expedite the process from the Sri Lankan side.
The Deputy Minister of Economy of Turkey conveyed that Turkey is ready for preliminary discussions on the Preferential Trade Agreement proposed by the Sri Lankan side. He further conveyed that Ministry of Economy of Turkey is arranging two delegations to visit Sri Lanka shortly as a part of the plan to increase trade relations between the two countries. One delegation would comprise representatives from the sectors of textiles, gems and jewellery and ship and yacht building while the other delegation will be of the contractors who are experienced in PPP projects.
In addition to the above two meetings, Minister and the accompanying delegates briefed the members of the Ankara Chamber of Industry on trading with and investing in Sri Lanka.