A 17-member high powered business delegation from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq visited Sri Lanka to explore business opportunities. The visit mainly focused on tea and food products and explored investment opportunities.
Honorary Consul General for Sri Lanka in Erbil Iraq, Dr. Ahmed Mustefa who led the delegation said that they are willing to increase the quantum of tea to be imported to Kurdistan and invited the participants to visit Kurdistan to exchange experiences.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry to further enhance trade, investment, and tourism between Sri Lanka and Iraq.
The scope of the MoU will be to disseminate information to enhance bilateral trade and business, initiate/promote joint ventures, partnerships, and other business links, provide technical expertise, arrange business promotion missions between the two countries, formulate proposals to accelerate bilateral relations, and convene business fora and business matchmaking sessions.
Retd. Major General Niranjan Ranasinghe, former Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Iraq sharing his experience in Iraq said that in 2016 Sri Lanka was the third largest tea exporter to Iraq and last year Sri Lanka became the largest exporter of tea to Iraq.
The Kurdistan region is an emerging market with an abundance of oil and gas resources, and the region develops through production-sharing contracts with many international companies of the United Kingdom and Germany.
Sri Lanka’s exports to Iraq have grown since 2015 from $98 million to $145 million in 2018.
Imports from Iraq have grown marginally over the past couple of years. The main item exported from Sri Lanka is tea amounting to US$ 138 million in 2018 accounting for 95% of total exports to Iraq. The main item imported to Sri Lanka is mineral fuels amounting to US$ 2.1 million accounting for 74% of total imports from Iraq to Sri Lanka. At present, the trade balance is in favor of Sri Lanka.
The Business Forum followed by an interactive session to build links to facilitate improved trade and investment relationships between the two countries. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has signed 129 MoUs to expand and strengthen relationships with overseas trade promotion organizations.