(FASTNEWS|COLOMBO) – The Department of Commerce on Friday (12) announced that the second session of Kuwait – Sri Lanka Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) held in Kuwait concluded on a successful note, while emphasising that private sector from both countries have a bigger role with a pioneering chamber to chamber Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is now envisioned.
“At the second session of the Kuwait-Sri Lanka JMC on Trade and Technical Cooperation held in Kuwait from 9 to 11 October, Ministers from both countries agreed to extend their fullest support to private sector entrepreneurs of the two side for tangible results,” the Department of Commerce said issuing a statement. Delivering the opening remarks at the JMC, Kuwait Commerce and Industry Minister Khaled Nasser Al-Roudan pointed out that Kuwait – Sri Lanka relations had always been cordial and mutually supportive. “The JMC should be a useful platform to further enhance such relations, while addressing any issues encountered by the private sector businesses of the two countries,” he added.
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen recalled the friendly and cordial relations between two countries. “The support extended by Kuwait to date are through funds on concessionary basis to develop irrigation, agriculture, education, power, energy and highways in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Minister Bathiudeen also highlighted the importance of exploring untapped potential of both countries for the purpose of further enhancing their economic relations.
The JMC discussions focused on a wide range of cooperation areas such as trade, economic and financial, investment, labour and manpower, industry, tourism, agriculture and development. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further advance and consolidate Kuwait – Sri Lanka trade and economic ties through a number of initiatives that would involve closer engagement of the private sector.
In this context, the two sides agreed to facilitate an MOU for strengthening cooperation between the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka.
On the sidelines of the JMC, Minister Bathiudeen met his counterpart Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce and Industry Kaled Nasser Al-Roudhan and Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Ali M. Thunaian Al-Ghanim for separate discussions.
The two Ministers highlighted the cordial relations that have been prevailing between the two countries over a long period of time and the mutual support extended during various international forums.
Minister Bathiudeen stated that the development requirements of post conflict Sri Lanka provide many investment opportunities for countries such as Kuwait, adding that the JCM facilitated closer engagements between both policy makers as well as the private sector entrepreneurs of the two countries for the purpose of promoting mutual cooperation.
The Kuwait Industry and Commerce Minister stated that his country was confident in investing in the Asian region which is full of resources and hard-working people.
Both Ministers agreed that the private sector should be given fullest support and encouragement possible in this context.
Minister Bathiudeen also extended an invitation to Kuwait Commerce and Industry Minister Khaled Nasser Al-Roudan to lead a Trade and Investment delegation to Sri Lanka at an early date next year.
In addition Minister Bathiudeen briefed the KCCI President on the investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka with special emphasis on the infrastructure projects, which falls within the purview of the Megapolis and Western Region Development Ministry.
“The KCCI expressed their keen interest in investing in few identified projects in Sri Lanka as Joint Ventures. With the aim of providing a structured mechanism for fostering closer linkages between the business communities if the two countries it was agreed to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka and the Kuwaiti chamber of commerce of Industry prior to the next session of the Joint Committee.”
Department of Commerce Acting Additional Director General Nimal Karunatilake gave leadership for Sri Lanka during technical discussions, while Commerce and Industry Ministry Undersecretary Dr. Khaled Al-fathel headed Kuwaiti side.
The Sri Lanka delegation to Kuwait was led by Minister Bathiudeen and comprised Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Kuwait B. Kaandeepan and senior officials from the Department of External Resources, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, Board of Investment (BOI) and officials from the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Kuwait.
Led by Al-Roudhan, the Kuwaiti delegation was represented by officials from Foreign Affairs Ministry, Finance Ministry, Information Ministry, Public Authority for Manpower, Public Authority of Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources, Public Authority for Industries, Kuwait Investment Authority, Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
The current value of two-way trade between Sri Lanka and Kuwait stands around $ 50 million. Sri Lanka’s exports to Kuwait average around $ 33 million, while its imports from Kuwait remain at about $17 million.
The key Sri Lankan exports to the Kuwait market include black tea, edible preparations, desiccated coconut and coconut milk powder, fruits and vegetables, foliaged plants and cut flowers, etc. Sri Lanka’s imports from Kuwait primarily include plastics and articles thereof, organic chemicals, paper and paperboard, mineral and chemical fertiliser, polymers of ethylene, etc.
The number of tourist arrivals from Kuwait stood around 4,300 in 2017. Kuwaiti investment in Sri Lanka remains insignificant at present.
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