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* Sri Lanka, Belarus bilateral trade meeting begins today in Colombo
Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 01:08 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 09, Colombo: First ever bilateral trade meet between Sri Lanka and Belarus, a key member of upcoming Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), starts today (09 July) in Colombo.

"Our newest trade effort with Belarus strengthens the historic relations and more importantly, gives us direct access to the world's newest single economic market" said Rishad Bathiyutheen Minister of Industry and Commerce Tuesday (08 July).

The first ever Sri Lanka-Belarus Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation will be held in Colombo from 9-10 July with the participation of Belarus Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Valentin B. Rybakov.

Deputy Minister Rybakov arrived in Sri Lanka Tuesday (08) leading a 20 member strong official delegation of the Government of Belarus, for the historic trade meeting.

Among sectors represented in today's official delegation are agriculture, agricultural machinery and fisheries. Some representatives from Belarussian private sector too are also expected.

Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which is planned to go into effect on 1 January 2015. The three members of EEU are Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

Belarus, the gateway to the 170-million strong Eurasian Economic Community Customs Union, remains a virgin market for Sri Lanka and from 1 January 2015 EEU will create a single economic market giving a new boost for Sri Lanka's export diversification efforts.

According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka's trade with Belarus has recorded an erratic pattern over the years. The total trade between both countries stood at US$ 14.24 million in 2013 with volumes more than doubling from its US$ 7 million levels in 2010 while the balance of trade has been in favor of Belarus.

Sri Lanka occupies the 69th rank among the countries which are exporting to Belarus in 2012. Sri Lanka's exports to Belarus include tea with a share of about 94%,followed by small quantities of new pneumatic tires, of rubber, retreated or used pneumatic tires of rubber.

Several Joint Statements were signed as a result of the successful meetings and negotiations between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko during President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Belarus in August.

In addition, a number of Agreements / MoUs covering trade & economic co-operation, Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasions, Visa Exemption for Holders of Diplomatic and Service Passports, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Military Technical Cooperation, Cooperation between the Ministries of Justice, Cooperation in the Field of Tourism, Civil Aviation etc. were concluded during 25-27 August's visit.

** Related Story :: Sri Lanka, Belarus look to enhance trade ties, form a Joint Economic Commission soon

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