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* Afghanistan invites Sri Lanka to tap its US$ 3 trillion identified natural resources
Thu, Aug 2, 2018, 08:44 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 02, Colombo: Afghanistan which packs over US$ 3 trillion worth identified natural resources has invited Sri Lankan business sector to visit the country and explore possible investments in unearthing mining resources including oil and gas.

Meeting with Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo on Tuesday, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Sri Lanka Munir Ghiasy said Afghanistan has trillion dollar worth untapped natural resources and is inviting countries in the region and neighbors to prospect them.

"We have formulated new policies to open air corridors with several countries to boost trade of well-known Afghan products including dry fruits, knitted carpets and semi-precious stones. Also we have trillion dollar worth untapped metal, mineral such as iron, copper and gold as well as mining resources including oil and gas" said Ambassador Ghiasy.

He said there are vast such untouched deposits which have been building up for centuries and a huge demand is building up now to prospect them.

However, he said since the global multinational companies are costly, they are awaiting to see the countries in this region and neighbors entering Afghanistan to prospect them, rather than very costly global firms.

"As a result we invite Sri Lankan businesses and firms to prospect in Afghanistan. If necessary Sri Lankan firms can come in first and just see the possibilities. I found out that Sri Lankan miners to be well skilled. At present, only a nominal level of bilateral trade takes place between the two countries. Sri Lanka can strengthen its trade and business cooperation with Afghanistan further," Ambassador Ghiasy said.

According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, Afghan-Sri Lanka bilateral trade is very minimal and as a result shows immense future trade potentials for both countries.

Minister Bathiudeen welcoming Ambassador Ghiasy's offers noted that Sri Lanka's total trade with Afghanistan last year was only US $ 820,000 and Sri Lankan exports were at $700,000, slightly increasing from US$ 630,000 of 2016.

"These values are clearly very low and it is time to explore new trade. I and my Ministry welcome your offer to our businesses and companies to explore deposits in Afghanistan and I am sure this is good news that they would welcome. Though our mechanized mining sector is small, our geological surveys and mines management is at advanced levels. Therefore your offer could be picked up by even non-mining corporates in Sri Lanka." Minister Bathiudeen added.

Printed books, newspapers and other printing industry products, were Sri Lanka's major export in 2015, 2016 and 2017 (accounting for 68% out of total exports in 2017). Imports from Afghanistan were negligible.

"We shall advice potential Sri Lankan investors to visit Afghanistan, get to know good partners and meet the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) as well as the Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) so that your offer is utilised well" said Minister Bathiudeen.


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