The Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka Friday announced that the second session of Kuwait-Sri Lanka Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) held in Kuwait recently concluded on a highly positive note and a bigger role for private sectors of both sides-with a pioneering Chamber-to-Chamber Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is now envisioned.
“At the second session of the Kuwait-Sri Lanka Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on Trade and Technical Cooperation held in Kuwait from 9-11 October ministers from both sides agreed to extend their fullest support to private sector entrepreneurs of the two countries for tangible results,” the Department of Commerce said in a statement.
Delivering the welcome remarks, Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce & Industry Khaled Nasser Al-Roudan said that Kuwait-Sri Lanka relations had always been cordial and mutually supportive. “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 said.
Delivering opening remarks, his Sri Lankan counterpart Minister Rishad Bathiudeen recalled the friendly and cordial relations between the 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 highlighting the importance of exploring untapped potential of both countries for the purpose of further enhancing their economic relations.
The current value of two-way trade between Sri Lanka and Kuwait stands around US$ 50 million. While Sri Lanka’s exports to Kuwait averages closer to US$ 33 million, its imports from Kuwait remains about US$ 17 million.The key Sri Lankan exports to the Kuwaiti market include black tea, edible preparations, desiccated coconut and coconut milk powder, fruits and vegetables, foliaged plants/ cut flowers, etc. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s imports from Kuwait primarily include plastics and articles thereof, organic chemicals, paper & paperboard, mineral & chemical fertilizer, polymers of ethylene, etc.
The number of tourist arrival from Kuwait stood around 4,300 in 2017. Kuwaiti investment in Sri Lanka remains insignificant at present.
The JMC discussions focused on a wide range of cooperation areas such as trade, economic and financial, investment, labor 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.
Nimal Karunatilake, Acting Additional Director General of the Department of Commerce headed the Sri Lanka side during the technical talks, while the Kuwaiti side was headed by Dr. Khaled Al-fathel, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
On the side-lines of the Joint Committee meeting, Minister Bathiudeen met his counterpart Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce & Industry, Kaled Nasser Al-Roudhan and the President of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Ali M. Thunaian Al-Ghanim for separate discussions.
The Sri Lankan Minister also invited his Kuwaiti counterpart to lead a Trade & Investment delegation to the island at an early date next year.
During his meeting with the KCCI President, Minister Bathiudeen briefed him on the investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka with special emphasis on the infrastructure projects which fall within the purview of the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Region Development.