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* Sri Lanka invites Kazakhstan to explore oil, set up joint ventures
Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 09:19 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 21, Astana: Sri Lanka has asked the Kazakhstan businesses to share their experience in exploration and development of gas and oil fields and set up joint ventures in the country.

Addressing the Kazakh-Sri Lankan Business Forum in Astana Wednesday, Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said Sri Lanka is currently diversifying its economy and its exports and also considering setting up joint ventures.

"Many international investors recognize Sri Lanka a country which provides investors with wide opportunities. And we also consider opportunities to set up joint enterprises between the business circles of Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka in priority areas," Prof. Peiris said.

Around 100 businessmen from Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka participated in the business forum to discuss new horizons of cooperation, especially, development of tourism along with increasing trade and mutual investments.

The Sri Lankan minister invited the Kazakh businesses to share their vast experience in the development and production of hydrocarbons to explore oil in Sri Lanka.

"Every year we spend about US$ 6 billion on oil imports, with crude accounting for one-third of the country's imports, so we would like to ask you to share your experience in oil-field development with us," the Minister told the forum.

Minister Peiris emphasized that Sri Lanka pursues a policy of protecting and promoting investors and assured the forum of the government's guarantee to protect any foreign investment.

"Sri Lanka has put in place a favorable climate. We are working to remove all the barriers to investments," the External Affairs Minister said.

Addressing the forum, Kazakhstan Prime-Minister Serik Akhmetov said the economic cooperation of the two countries is not up to the level they would like it to be and there is potential for growth.

He said Kazakhstan is actively diversifying and modernizing its economy and invited Sri Lankan companies to take part in the State Program of Accelerated Industrial-Innovative Development.

The two countries Wednesday signed an agreement to enhance cooperation tourism sector and are considering to sign agreements in economic cooperation as well.

"We are now about to sign fundamental agreements on economic cooperation, protection of mutual investments and elimination of double taxation. Our nearest plan is to form a Kazakhstan-Lankan inter-government commission for trade and economic cooperation," Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said following a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday.

President Nazarbayev expressed interest in cooperation in agriculture, transport and energy and especially, in textile industry as Sri Lanka exports all kinds of materials and finished apparel.

Participants of the Kazakh-Sri Lanka Business Forum discussed areas of common interests between the two countries including travel, transport, and logistics to increase the current trade between Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)



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