OCT 26, 2017
Top ministers and business leaders from Qatar and Sri Lanka vowed to take appropriate measures to increase trade volume between the two countries during the Qatar-Sri Lanka Business and Investment Forum held in Doha on Wednesday.
According to them, the trade volume between Qatar and Sri Lanka, which currently stands at $52.5 million, does not correspond to vast opportunities available for bilateral trade.
The meeting, which kicked off in the presence of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, explored various trade and investment opportunities available in the two countries.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Economy and Commerce HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed al Thani said that Qatar sees Sri Lanka as strategic partner in South Asia.
He said that various agreements and memorandum of understandings (MoUs) between Qatar and Sri Lanka has been signed to enhance economic relations between the two countries.
Stressing that what has been achieved so far does not reflect the capabilities that characterise the two countries, he said the two countries need to exert more efforts to activate all agreements and MoUs and to expand bilateral cooperation at various levels.
“There are about 210 Sri Lankan companies operating in Qatar with a capital of about QR45.5 million. We invite more Sri Lankan companies to take part in renaissance taking place in Qatar,” Sheikh Ahmed said.
He expressed hope that the forum will serve as a bridge between private sectors of both countries. The minister said that Qatar has launched various incentives to make the country attractive for foreign investments.
Sheikh Ahmed said the second session of Qatar-Sri Lanka Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation to be held soon in Colombo would further boost trade ties between the two countries.
Qatar Chamber Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed al Thani, who also addressed the forum, said the distinguished relations between Qatar and Sri Lanka reflected in the presence of a large number of Sri Lankan expatriates contribute to the development of Qatar.
He expressed hope that the forum would be instrumental in activating the joint cooperation between the business sectors in both countries.
“Qatari businessmen are looking to identify the investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka and build cooperation with businessmen there, leading to the establishment of alliances and partnerships that result in joint projects in both countries,” he said.
Sri Lanka Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said the forum would open door for further business partnerships between the two countries.
Showcasing Sri Lanka as an ideal destination for investment in South Asia, Bathiudeen said the country is gateway to many important countries in Asia like India and Pakistan with consumer base of around 1.7 billion.
Underlining the vast potential of increasing trade volume between the two countries, the minister added that Qatari market was an important destination for Sri Lanka.
“Despite the fact that Sri Lanka is an important tourist destination, the number of Qatari tourists to Sri Lanka did not surpass 1,700 tourists in 2016. This is an area where we need to improve,” the minister said.
He expressed his country’s interest in benefiting from Qatari experience in a number of areas such as education, technology, financial sector and others, in which Doha achieved remarkable accomplishments.
He underlined that Qatar’s selection for organising the 2022 World Cup reflects its role and position in the Middle East region.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake urged Qatari businessmen to invest in his country, and get advantage of the MoUs signed between the chambers of both countries, as well as the agreement on mutual protection and promotion of investment.
He called for reviewing means of promoting trade and mutual investments between the two countries.
The forum included presentations by Sri Lankan institutions seeking Qatari investment in various economic sectors including tourism, financial, agriculture and infrastructure.