By Zahara Zuhair
Both Australia and New Zealand have expressed willingness to expand trade and investment with Sri Lanka.
The High Commissioner for Australia in Sri Lanka, Robyn Mudie said they are focusing on three priority areas to invest; which are agro business (includes food and beverages, infrastructure and education), dairy and fisheries industries.
“In the agro sector, Australia has already contributed considerably. We are hoping to build the dairy industry through a 5-year, US$ 30 million project”.
Australian companies have expressed interests in sharing technology and assisting in the development of Sri Lanka’s fisheries sector, Mudie said.
She also revealed that trade and investment relations between the two countries have shown a significant growth in the year 2014, as two-way trade between the two countries crossed US$ 400 million mark for the first time.
“This significant growth is a reflection of the close ties and synergies between our markets and our business communities,” she said while adding that one of the key objectives during her stay in Sri Lanka is to see more new Australian investments in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka, Grahame Morton said that New Zealand has a significant agricultural and traditional relationship with Sri Lanka, dominated by a few major products.
Morton also commended the initial agreement signed for the launch of balloon-based internet by Google in Sri Lanka which will enable the whole country to have access to Wi-Fi.
The two envoys made these observations at the 20th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka - Australia - New Zealand Business Council (SLANZBC) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce held in Colombo recently.
Lionel D C Silva, President of SLANZBC briefing about the trade positions between the countries noted that, in 2014, trade between Australia and Sri Lanka accounted for US$ 400 million, an increase from the previous US$ 368 million.
Australia’s exports to Sri Lanka during the reference year amounted to US$ 237million, while the value of Lankan exports to that country was US$ 163.33 million.
He noted that the trade balance stood in favour of Australia, where the trade gap amounted to US$74 million.
During the year 2014, trade between Sri Lanka and New Zealand accounted for US$279 million, an increase from US$ 244 million in2013. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s exports to New Zealand during the year 2014 stood at US$ 25 million, a marginal decline from the previous year’s exporting income of US$ 26.34 million. The trade balance which was in favour of New Zealand stood at US$ 227.44million.
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