TEHRAN, Feb. 26 (MNA) – In post-sanctions Iran’s ground-breaking first bilateral with Sri Lanka, the country has called for unprecedented level of engagement with Sri Lanka in multiple spheres.

Mr. Hamid Chitchian who headed a delegation to Sri Lanka to cement lucrative bilateral trade agreement with southern Asian country, stressed that business sectors of both sides should lead the way.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka readily rallied its call for re-visiting the understanding on the prospective Preferential Trade Agreement between both countries that was agreed way back in 2004. “In the new atmosphere which comes after this JCEC plan of action and also favorable conditions in international arena to carry out serious activities, are very attractive for entrepreneurs involved in these sectors. Iran and its new international atmosphere with respect to resolving Iran’s sanctions is completely ready to boost bilateral commercial relations and would like to increase the level of cooperation with Sri Lanka more than ever” announced an upbeat Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian on  February 24 in Colombo.

The first ever JCEC between Sri Lanka and Iran to be held in Iran’s post-sanction era, the session packed more than 100 delegates from both sides for a full day of technical trade discussions. All top Lankan Ministries and agencies-including Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Treasury, Customs and accreditation bodies, and even reps from Chambers were joining the session. Sri Lankan delegation was led by Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen. The Iranian delegation was led by the powerful and high profile Energy Minister of Iran Hamid Chitchian. Among the 30 member Iranian delegation were reps from Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Oil, Energy, as well as Iranian National Standards Organisation, Iranian Export Development Bank, and the state-owned petroleum giant the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) packed the session.

“In the new atmosphere which comes after this JCEC plan of action and also favorable conditions in international arena to carry out serious activities such as investment, and cooperation in diverse economic fields such as energy, water, electricity and gas, industry, mining, banking, science and tech, customs cooperation and so on have been created which are very attractive for entrepreneurs involved in these sectors. Iran and its new international atmosphere with respect to resolving Iran’s sanctions is completely prepared and welcome boosting bilateral commercial relations and would like to increase the level of cooperation with Sri Lanka more than ever. I hope the governments of Iran and Sri Lanka together signing various MoUs could provide suitable opportunities for protecting their private sectors as well” said Iranian Minister Chitchian.

“I believe that the JCEC and exchange of delegations strengthens bilateral ties, investment opportunities and remove possible obstacles. Iran emphasizes development of relations with all countries. This important policy is manifest in Iran’s government in stressing the Joint Plan of Action and solving the nuclear issue and pressing ahead with Iran’s determination of further consolidation of friendly relations and cooperation with all countries in the world,” Chitchian told the meeting.

“Expanding the level of Iran’s relationship in all spheres with Sri Lanka is one of the most important goals of Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran attaches special attention to all Asian countries and in the meantime to Sri Lanka’s position as well.  Cooperation and relations between Sri Lanka and foreign policy of Iran must be promoted through bilateral relations particularly in economic, energy, commercial, tourism, training, and health sectors.”

“As the Chairman of Iranian Joint Economic Commission, I believe that such a momentous goal require greater use of all available capacities along with the practical implementation of the articles of MoU between the two sides. Iran is currently implementing two major projects in Sri Lanka – Uma Oya and electrification of 1000 Lankan villages in Sri Lanka. I hope the implementation of these projects will help enhance the quality of life of these people. Today I am honored to see that all issues with these two projects have been solved by officials of both countries and by the two Iranian companies -FARAB and SUNIR. The Uma Oya project is running in progress in all aspects. Project to providing electricity for 1,000 villages is to achieve 90 per cent target very soon. We consider these two big projects as the very first stepping stones of our cooperation and we hope to define more effective and bigger projects for effective cooperation in our efforts. I invite the Iranian and Lankan partners to implement and finish the projects in due time, and ask the executives of the projects to report their implementation progress stage by stage,” Chitchian went reportedly detailing.

Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen stressed the unrealized trade potentials between both countries and stresses the importance of trade with post-sanctions Iran for Sri Lanka. “We are aware that in recent past the trade and economic activities have slowed between both countries due to various external pressures. Since trade restrictions on Iran were lifted from early January I am pleased to note that this 11th meeting has become an ideal platform to refresh and re-commence bilateral cooperation and identify new opportunities in diverse fields. The balance of trade between the two countries has heavily and continuously been in favor of Iran over the years and after 2013, it has changed in favor of Sri Lanka,” added the minister.

“Your Excellency would agree, we still stand much below the real potential in our bilateral trade. Also, though trade between Sri Lanka and Iran continues to show a positive trend, it is not a steady growth trend and there is room for strengthening it further. I believe that today the two parties could explore and identify ways and means for product diversification to exploit our trade potentials fully.  I note that the finalized preferential trade agreement in 2004 has not been implemented due to various reasons and I am confident today’s session is the opportunity to re-visit and take appropriate decisions having taken to consideration of present trading patterns and global trade conditions.“

The technical sessions of 11th JCEC between both countries concluded with a way-forward MoU on February 24.

 

SH/PR

 

News Code 114796

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