In the wake of last weekend’s lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, the first ever official delegation to Sri Lanka from the post-sanctions Iran will land in Colombo as early as February 23rd, to start crucial joint trade talks.
Iran now looks forward to re-commence petroleum and petrochemical sales to Sri Lanka while also opening its markets wider to Ceylon Tea and apparels, a press statement from Sri Lanka’s Industry and Commerce Ministry said. “We are entering the post sanction era. It is time to upgrade our bilateral relations, including economic. In fact, renewing our bilateral ties, including economic, is the top priority of my mission to Colombo” newly appointed Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohammed Zaeri Amirani said during a courtesy call he made on Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
According to the Department of Commerce, bilateral Trade between the two countries surpassed US $ 1.5 billion in 2011 and in 2012 two-way trade totaled US $ 857.81 million.
Trade declined thereafter due to unconditional decrease of imports from Iran and as a result, last year’s total bilateral trade stood at US $188 million.
Sri Lanka used to import its petroleum requirements from Iran till 2012 (50000 barrels a year), and when the sanctions took effect in 2012, total trade declined to US $660 million from 2011’s US $1.4 billion.
Iran is looking to supply medicine, medical equipment, agricultural machinery such as tractors, fertilizer, bitumen, and petrochemicals to Sri Lanka. During the February meet we can give a better picture of our requirements but we are keen to import Ceylon Tea, apparels, and coconuts and cashew. I am pleased Sri Lanka would be able to re-commence petroleum imports from Iran from now.”
Last year’s top Lankan exports to Iran were tea (US $89mn), coconuts and other nuts (US $8mn) and paper boxes while imports (total at US $8.5mn) from Iran were screws/bolts/nuts, structured parts and pumps for liquid.