Dec 05, Colombo: The Gulf region's most competitive economy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is upbeat on its future trade prospects with Sri Lanka, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen says.
Addressing the 76th National Day Celebrations of UAE in Colombo recently at Shangri-La Hotel, Minister Bathiudeen said Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates enjoy diplomatic relations since 1979 invited the UAE to be partner in Sri Lanka's transformation in to an economic hub in the Indian Ocean.
"Our vision is to make Sri Lanka a prosperous nation by 2025. We will do so by transforming Sri Lanka into the hub of the Indian Ocean with a knowledge-based highly competitive social-market economy. We invite the UAE to be a strong partner in achieving our targets," the Minister said.
The Minister noted that the total trade turnover between the two countries was US$ 1.3 billion in 2016 and US$ 1.18 billion in the first half of 2017.
"There is great potential for us to export higher volumes and high value added products to the UAE. Sri Lanka has keen interest in inviting the UAE investors to invest in Sri Lanka especially in infrastructure projects as Sri Lanka is transforming itself as a hub in the Indian Ocean. You will agree with me that currently the global political and economic balance of power is undergoing key shifts and major re-adjustments are in the offing," he said.
Minister Bathiudeen noting that there are over 122,000 Sri Lankans living and working in the UAE, expressed his appreciation to the UAE Government for providing employment opportunities for those Sri Lankans and making every effort to look after their welfare.
Ambassador of the UAE to Sri Lanka Abdul Hamid Abdul Fattah Kazim Al Mulla addressing the event said the two countries have to consolidate the already strong bilateral relations.
"The visit of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of UAE to Sri Lanka this November further strengthened bilateral cooperation in areas of common interest. A number of joint venture trade projects are being implemented between both countries and they will strengthen relations between both countries even more," Ambassador Al- Mulla said.
UAE has been one of the largest investors in Sri Lanka among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies, investing over US$ 385 million in FDI since 2012.
Joining the occasion were President Maithripala Sirisena, Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faizer Mustapha, and Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage.