EghtesadOnline: Iran has called for a meeting of its joint economic commission with Sri Lanka to be held in Tehran in August.
“As per our own assessment, the May 2018 state visit by the Lankan delegation to Iran was very good and productive,” said Iran’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohammad Zaeri Amirani in a meeting with Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
“Outcomes of the state visit led by President Maithripala Sirisena were good. Among the major outcomes were the many memoranda of understanding signed between the two countries in Tehran. These pack great benefits for Sri Lanka … During this visit, President Hassan Rouhani also stressed the need to continue with the bilateral Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation meeting series, as well as to start on the new MoUs,” Amirani was quoted by Sri Lankan newspaper Daily News as saying on Wednesday.
According to the Department of Commerce, bilateral trade between the two countries last year was at $188 million—an increase of 4.5% over 2016’s total of $180 million, Financial Tribune reported.
The balance of trade was in favor of Sri Lanka, as 94% of total trade ($177 million) were exports from Sri Lanka to Iran. Among the leading exports from Sri Lanka to Iran in 2017 were Ceylon tea (90%), desiccated coconut (3%), other vegetable mixtures (2%) and defatted coconuts (1%).
Total imports into Sri Lanka from Iran were only $ 11 million—the leading four imports being fish, wires and cables, grapes and plastic products.
Until 2013, Sri Lankan fuel imports from Iran were at a much higher rate ($1.4 billion in 2011, $660 million in 2012).
“The series of JCEC has been helpful in advancing our relations in many ways. Since the bulk of our exports is a single product (90% of exports in 2017 constituted tea), it is time to diversify our exports basket to Iran.”
Bathiudeen said the August meeting can help Sri Lanka in this regard.