The volume of trade exchange between Sri Lanka and Qatar reached US$ 59 million in 2016. There are 210 Lankan companies established in partnership with the Qatari side with a capital of 45.5 million Qatari riyals, Qatari Minister of Economy & Commerce Sheikh Ahmad Bin Jassim Bin Mohammed Al Thani said.
"Therefore Qatar considers Sri Lanka as an important investment and trade partner in the light of economic potential which will lead us to put a number of vital sectors on the map of joint cooperation in the next phase, notably the agricultural sector," Qatari Minister Jassim Al Thani said at an event where both countries came to an agreement and an MoU was signed between the countries, strengthening economic relations.
The event was held at Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel on October 31, organised by the Ministry of Commerce in Sri Lanka.
He said that the Qatari economy has been able to achieve advanced levels in various international reports where Qatar is ranked second in the world in terms of providing a stable macroeconomic environment, eighth in the world in economy performance index and 18th in the Global Competitiveness index for the year 2016.
"We also look forward to further activating relations between the private sector and businessmen from both sides and enabling them to play a bigger role, he said. "Qatar, through the Port of Hamad has succeeded in developing direct commercial lines with a number of strategic ports and shipping services provided by the national carrier to more than 150 destinations around the world."
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen led the Sri Lankan side in the two-day discussions.
"I am sure that the two day discussions in Colombo will help enhance our bilateral trade beyond the present US$ 45 million levels, Minister Bathiudeen said addressing the closing session.
"Following the conclusion of last week's high level bilateral meetings in Doha the time has come for us to have a fresh look at our trade relations and to widen it, the minister said.
The minister said the two day discussions were fruitful and resulted in many positive outcomes on a number of mutual areas of cooperation including power and energy, aviation, hospitality industry, and agriculture. "Especially discussions on using Qatari LNG gas for cleaner energy in Sri Lanka are a new aspect at this session," he added.
The limited export baskets of the two countries "have been a major barrier to trade development between both countries, However,. Sri Lanka should increase the export basket. Currently it is not in favour of Sri Lanka, Minister Bathiudeen said.
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka (DoCSL) the two-way trade between Sri Lanka and Qatar averaged around US$ 45 million in 2016. While Sri Lanka's exports to Qatar were at US$ 15 million. Qatar's exports to Sri Lanka remained at US$ 30 million. While Sri Lanka's imports from Qatar have primarily been polymers of ethylene, 37 percent of Sri Lanka's exports to Qatar were bananas followed by food preparations, tea, tyres and vegetables.
Both Qatar and Sri Lanka vowed to break their present low trade threshold and to move towards bigger targets at the closing of the two-day trade talks in Colombo.
A high-level trade delegation led by Qatari Minister of Economy & Commerce Sheikh Ahmad Bin Jassim Bin Mohammed Al Thani participated in the second Qatar-Sri Lanka Joint Committee for Economic, Commercial and Technical Cooperation commenced in Colombo on Monday.