January, 21, 2016
In the wake of last weekend’s lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, the first ever official delegation to Sri Lanka from the post-sanctions Iran will land in Colombo as early as February 23 to start crucial joint trade talks-and Iran now looks forward to re-commence petroleum and petrochemical sales to Sri Lanka while also opening its markets wider to Ceylon Tea and apparels, as revealed on 19 January in Colombo.
“We are entering the post sanction era, it is time to upgrade our bilateral relations, including economic. In fact, renewing our bilateral ties, including economic, is the top priority of my mission to Colombo” announced the newly appointed (HE) Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohammed Zaeri Amirani on the eve of 19 January.
HE Amb Zaeri Amirani was addressing the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen during his courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen at the Ministry on the eve of 19 January. Joining Minister Bathiudeen were his top officials.
According to the Department of Commerce, bilateral Trade between the two countries surpassed $ 1 billion in 2011 (at $ 1.6 Bn) and in 2012 two-way trade totaled $857.81 Mn. Trade declined thereafter due to unconditional decrease of imports from Iran and as a result, last year’s total bilateral trade stood at $188 Mn. Sri Lanka used to import its petroleum requirements from Iran till 2012 (50000 barrels a year), and when the sanctions took effect in 2012, total trade declined to $660 Mn from 2011’s $1.4 Bn.
“As we enter the post sanction era, it is time to upgrade our bilateral relations, including economic. Lifting of sanctions on us has a strong message to the international community and international groups-that, Iran is now a transparent, responsible country” said HE Amb Zaeri Amirani and added: “Sri Lanka has good international relations and a good tourism sector and we see these positively. In fact, renewing our bilateral trade ties is the top priority of my mission to Colombo, in the interest of both countries. We have started the Joint Commission for trade promotion and this is an unfinished job. Tehran has accepted your suggestion for the next Joint Trade Commission and we are eagerly looking forward to meet Lankan officials in Colombo this February. Iran is looking to supply medicine, medical equipment, agricultural machinery such as tractors, fertilizer, bitumen, and petrochemicals to Sri Lanka. During the February meet we can give a better picture of our requirements but we are keen to import Ceylon Tea, apparels, and coconuts and cashew. I am pleased Sri Lanka would be able to re-commence petroleum imports from Iran from now.”
Responding to HE Amb Zaeri Amirani, Minister Bathiudeen said: “I visited Iran twice during the time of sanctions. Despite sanctions Iranians supported Sri Lanka during its war and we are thankful to the people of Iran. We warmly welcome the official delegation from Tehran for this year’s Joint Commission Talks that start on February 24 in Colombo. I have appointed a committee consisting of my top officials and stakeholders to prepare for this year’s Joint Commission and the committee will conduct local stakeholder meetings as well. With the lifting of sanctions, Iran-Sri Lanka total trade can expect a major turnaround.”
Last year’s top Lankan exports to Iran were tea ($89 Mn), coconuts and other nuts ($8 Mn) and paper boxes while imports (total at $8.5 Mn only) from Iran were screws/bolts/nuts, structured parts and pumps for liquid.
Photo - Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (left) receives an ornate design gifted by (HE) Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohammed Zaeri Amirani on the eve of 19 January at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo 3.