SL - Belarus Trade Talks Held

The first Sri Lanka-Belarus official trade talks held in Colombo yesterday vowed towards forging sustainable trade links while making inroads to the huge 'New Asian; and upcoming Eurasian Union markets.

The first Colombo talks have now paved the way for a prospective future visit of the President of Belarus to Sri Lanka.

"Belarus is Sri Lanka's first gateway to the promising EEU new single market.

"Our Free Trade Agreements with Pakistan and India have opened gateways to a South Asian market of 1.2 billion. Equally important is Sri Lanka's forthcoming FTA with China.

"Therefore we invite you to partner with Sri Lanka and take advantage of the new Asian opportunity," said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo yesterday.

For technical sessions, Sri Lanka's side is led by Anura Siriwardena Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce while the Belarus' team is led by Deputy Minister Rybakov.

Rybakov said: "This session of the JE commission is a result of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Belarus in 2013.

"We will try to arrange a return visit to Sri Lanka by our head of state. The agreements that can be reached by this two day session will help us in formulating this return visit by our Head of State."

"Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which is scheduled to come into effect on January1,2015. From January 2015, it is expected that EEU will create a single economic market of 171 million people. Therefore Belarus is also Sri Lanka's first gateway to the promising new single market.

The Government's objective is to make Sri Lanka a global hub. Out of the total of 231 exports destinations of Sri Lanka in 2013, Belarus ranked as the 77th export destination, and it is interesting to note that it has progressed from its lower Rank 81 in 2011. Less than one percent, that is 0.05 percent, of our total exports are taken by Belarus. This shows that Belarus is still a virgin market for us with potentials. As for our bilateral trade, the total trade between both countries stood at dollars 14.24 million in 2013.

The Minister invited investors from Belarus to partner with Sri Lanka and invest in more than 50 readymade investment projects offered by the government. In this background, investing in Sri Lanka to re-export is a promising option for investors from Belarus. 

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