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* 'China, second largest supplier to Sri Lanka'-Rishad Bathiyutheen
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 12:25 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

June 10, Kunming: Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen addressing the 9th China-South Asia Business Forum in Kunming, Yunnan Province said China has become Sri Lanka's second largest supplier of goods and the forthcoming FTA with China signifies the strategic importance of bilateral cooperation efforts.

"China has emerged as the second largest supplier to Sri Lanka accounting for 17% of Sri Lanka's total imports. The China-Sri Lanka Bilateral relations have been upgraded to strategic partnership and the forthcoming FTA remains an integral part of this historic partnership," said Minister Bathiyutheen addressing the forum on June 07.

Minister Bathiyutheen was addressing the 9th China-South Asia Business which is held as part of the second China-South Asia Expo and 22nd Kunming Fair.

"Sri Lanka has been participating in this fair since 2007 when this was held for the first time in Beijing. Sri Lanka requested China to host this as an annual event and welcomed the proposal to hold the fair in Kunming from 2008. Thereafter in 2009, 64 Lankan companies took part in this exhibition and today I am delighted to note that 118 companies and businesses from Sri Lanka are participating this year" said Minister Bathiyutheen addressing the event.

He added that the companies represent such sectors as tea, gem and jewelry, arts, crafts and handicrafts, coconut fiber, herbal products, and even gem cutting and polishing sector.

The Minister expressed Sri Lanka's "profuse gratitude and appreciation for the continuous support extended by the government of China to Sri Lanka to promote bilateral trade exchanges, in particular, identifying new export avenues with new partners in Yunnan Province through this international level exposition."

Minister Bathiyutheen said Sri Lanka imports a substantial quantity of raw materials and intermediate products and the total trade turnover between the two countries which stood at US$ 658.94 million in 2005 has increased up to US$ 3.084 billion by 2013, registering almost five-fold trade growth.

He thanked the Chinese government for extending fund assistance to develop Sri Lanka’s much needed export-oriented critical infrastructure such as highways and ports and airports which are essential components in realizing the committed vision of President, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In the recent times, he said it is significant that China - Sri Lanka Bilateral relations have been upgraded to strategic partnership and the forthcoming FTA remains an integral part of this historic partnership.

Also joining the panel session were Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Executive Director of the Pakistan Council on China Fazal ur Rahman, President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation -SAARC Ismail Asif, and Head of the Yunnan International Exhibition Bureau Li Jiming.

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