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Sri Lanka food processing, education, heath interests UAE: visiting minister

25/11/11  www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka’s food processing, education and health sectors and business process outsourcing sectors are of interest to the United Arab Emirates, visiting minister of foreign trade Lubna Al Qasimi has said.
“We are interested in Sri Lanka’s tourism, education and health sectors,” she was quoted as saying at a business forum in Colombo.”Sri Lanka also has more to offer due to new growth sectors such as food processing and BPO.”

Trade between the two countries had increased to 581 million US dollars in 2010 from 528 million in 2009, Sri Lanka ministry of industry and commerce said.

Up to September 2011, trade had increased to 807 million US dollars with petroleum accounting for 267 million US dollars. Except in 2007, the trade balance had favoured the UAE during the last 10 years. However UAE employs large numbers of Sri Lankans.

Tea accounted for 48 percent of exports from Sri Lanka followed by apparels at 18 percent. Petroleum made up 51 percent Sri Lanka’s imports from the UAE and fertilizer 16 percent.

 

“Sri Lanka is progressing towards becoming Asia’s business hub for naval operations, commercial activities, knowledge based industries, aviation activities and energy developments,” minister of industries and commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.

“Sri Lanka’s strategic location as a connecting point of sea and air transport between east and west has been complimentary to the expansion in the trade with the world.”

Minister Bathiudeen said Sri Lanka has free and preferential trade agreements with India and Pakistan and South Asia giving access to three billion people.Samantha Ranatunga, president of Sri Lanka – Africa & Middle East business council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said the profitability of Sri Lankan firms was a good indicator UAE to invest in Sri Lanka.

UAE is estimated to have invested 66 million US dollars in Sri Lanka led by Al Ghurair Group and Al Futtaim groups.

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