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* Iraq agrees to buy Ceylon Tea directly, removes ban on Sri Lankan coco peat
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 12:30 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 28, Colombo: Iraq has agreed to import Ceylon Tea directly and also to remove its import ban on coconut fiber pith from Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said.

Iraq and Sri Lanka have reached the agreements during the eighth session of Sri Lanka Iraq Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation (JEC) held in Baghdad on Tuesday (February 25).

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen led the 16-member Sri Lankan delegation for the discussions while Iraqi Minister of Trade, Kheer-allah Hassan Babaker Muhammad led the 30 member Iraqi delegation.

Minister Bathiyutheen said the two-day-long trade discussion held in Baghdad was a great success, and it also resulted in Iraq lifting ban on Sri Lanka's coco peat, opening their markets wider for Pure Ceylon Tea and 13 new Sri Lankan exports.

The Ministry said about 15,000 metric tons of tea was being indirectly export to Iraq through Dubai, Jordan and Kuwait.

"Iraq is certainly an important market for us not only for tea but even for other prospective products. Similarly, there would be good opportunities for Iraq to promote its products with potential in Sri Lanka," Bathiyutheen said.

Iraqi State Trading Corporation had expressed willingness to buy 13 items from Sri Lanka including rubber tires, stationary, electrical cables, generators and accessories, apparel and textiles, household appliances, toys, foodstuff, and covering for trailers, the Ministry said in a statement.

According to the Department of Commerce, the value of total trade between the two countries rose to US$ 89.99 million in 2013 from US$ 8.72 million in 2003. Sri Lanka exported goods totaling US$ 89.80 million to Iraq and imported only goods to the value of US$ 190,000 from Iraq during 2013.

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