In the wake of last weekend’s lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, an official delegation from Iran is due in Colombo on February 23 to discuss the resumption of normal trade ties. Among the issues that the two sides would be looking at are recommencing petroleum and petrochemical sales to Sri Lanka and opening markets wider to Ceylon Tea and apparel exports, says the Sri Lankan Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Sri Lankan newspaper Sunday Times reported.
We are entering the post-sanction era; it is time to upgrade our bilateral relations, including economic. In fact, renewing our bilateral ties is the top priority of my mission to Colombo, said newly-appointed Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohammed Zaeri Amirani during a meeting with Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo on January 19.
According to Sri Lanka’s Department of Commerce, bilateral trade surpassed $1 billion in 2011 and totaled $857.81 million in 2012. Trade declined thereafter due to a decrease in imports from Iran and as a result, last year’s total bilateral trade stood at $188 million. Sri Lanka used to import its petroleum requirements from Iran until 2012 (50,000 barrels a year) but when the sanctions took effect in 2012, overall trade declined to $660 million from 2011’s $1.4 billion.
Amirani said Tehran has accepted a Colombo offer for the next Joint Trade Commission between the two countries to be held in Colombo next month. Iran is looking to supply medicine, medical equipment and agricultural machinery such as tractors, fertilizer, bitumen and petrochemicals to Sri Lanka. “During the February meeting, we can give a better picture of our requirements but we are keen to import Ceylon Tea, apparels and coconuts and cashew. I am pleased Sri Lanka would be able to recommence petroleum imports from Iran from now,” He said. (Financial Tribune)