* Extends US$ 2mn in ODI to Sri Lanka this year
* Reps from an Iranian construction firm now in Colombo
Iran wants to be the Ceylon Tea’s transhipment hub for Central Asia, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a press communiqué yesterday, not touching on any issues that may arise because of the US-led sanctions on Iran.
"We are surrounded by strong Central Asian market of more than 300 Mn people who demand, just as own our Iranian market, more and more Ceylon Tea. I stress that Ceylon Tea export volumes to Iran can now be increased dramatically due to the growing demand. Also we can quench Central Asia’s tea thirst by acting as the Ceylon Tea hub for the region," visiting Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific Affairs Abbas Araghchi said yesterday in Colombo as quoted by the ministry communiqué.
Araghchi was making a courtesy call on Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka on 29 May at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo 3. Accompanying him were members of his delegation and Iran’s Ambassador to Colombo Mahmud Rahimi Gorji.
Highlighting Sri Lanka – Iran trade cooperation, Bathiudeen apprised Araghchi: "The ninth session of the Joint Commission for Economic Co-operation (JCEC) between Sri Lanka and Iran was held in Sri Lanka in September 2010. It was formed with the objective of further enhancing trade, culture, education and social relations between the two countries. The Department of Commerce under my Ministry is doing the preliminary work to establish the Iran - Sri Lanka Joint Investment Promotion Committee with the participation of Iran Foreign Investment Company on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Board of Investment of Sri Lanka on behalf of Sri Lanka."
Araghchi said: "We too are encouraged by growing trade volumes with Sri Lanka. The trade volumes between Iran and Asian countries have been growing and our bilateral trade with Sri Lanka too is on the rise. As for investment here, we have identified opportunities in marine port construction and development and as a result are especially keen on port projects on a partnership basis. I stress that Sri Lanka and Iran should strengthen trade cooperation at business to business level as well. We are looking to form business partnerships with Sri Lankan firms on construction projects as I stressed and a delegation from the Iranian construction firm ‘Omran Rahat’ is now in Colombo with me for this purpose. We also want to extend US$ 2 million in ODI to Sri Lanka this year. Also, I am pleased to inform that Iran is taking Sri Pure Ceylon Tea very seriously."
Bilateral trade between both countries continue to show a positive trend specially from 2002 to 2011. Total trade between the two countries surpassed US$ 1 million in 2008 and in 2011 it rose to US$ 1,619 million. The balance of trade between two countries has heavily and continuously been in favour of Iran over the years. Petroleum oils remain the most important item of imports from Iran followed by wheat and meslin, urea, apparatus for transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, palm oil and its fractions and food preparations have also gained importance during last few years, the ministry said.