After a lapse of eight years, Sri Lanka began discussion on economic and technical cooperation between Sri Lanka and Iraq under the direction of the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
“Sri Lanka had a market share of almost 65% in the 1990s and we must regain this share,” said Minister Bathiudeen. He went on to say that a definitive action plan must be agreed upon between the two countries so that both could benefit in depth and breadth from the discussion.
The total trade that was US$ 8.7 million way back in 2003 has now grown to become a US$ 37.5 million in 2009. However, with a stronger focus on the liberalised policies in the Iraq, there are greater opportunities for Sri Lanka’s private sector to support the Iraqi economy and thereby achieve a mutually beneficial relationship.
Iraqi Trade Minister Dr.Mohamed Abdul Hakeem Alsafi commented on the need for rubber to support the aggressive industrial drive that is taking form in Iraq.
Almost 20 key exporters of tea from Sri Lanka are currently in Baghdad at the International Trade Fair to sketch out business strategy, which is an indication of the renewed interest between the two countries, especially in the focused industry of tea. Tea is driving on a new positioning platform of ethically manufactured ozone friendly teas – a proposition that is unique to Sri Lanka.
Minister Bathiudeen emphasised the need for a private-public partnership as the new model of driving trade globally so that Sri Lanka can become a 20 billion dollar export industry by 2010.