s Sri Lanka’s bilateral trade with the Holy Land surged by 178 percent since 2007, Sri Lanka has signalled even closer B2B links with the historic State.
“We have a proud history of bilateral trade and business cooperation with the State of Israel. This time we took no less than 40 leading businessmen to Israel from Sri Lanka and completed a successful Business Forum,” said Sarath Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Israel, addressing the progress review meeting of the recent Lankan trade and business delegation to Israel facilitated by Export Development Board (EDB) and supported by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Taking part at the session were business reps who were in the July 2014 delegation to Israel. In July, a trade and business delegation from Sri Lanka consisting of 40 business leaders led by Neomal Perera (Deputy Minister of External Affairs) completed a successful Business Forum in Israel, interacting with their Israeli counterparts, including the well- known L.R. Group, and Sri Lanka-Asia Chamber of Commerce. The businesses in the mission shared interests in sectors such as tourism, hi-tech, water, energy, medical, apparel, employment, agriculture, greenhouse cultivation, dairy, fish, flowers, diamonds, gems, jewelry, rubber, and education. Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera (Chairman–BOI), Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe (Deputy Governor of the Central Bank), business reps from Chambers of Commerce and various sectors addressed the Seminars.
According to the Department of Commerce, in 2013, total bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Israel stood at $175.63 million, rising by 11 percent from 2012. The balance of trade was in favour of Sri Lanka. Diamonds, brought down from Israel to Sri Lanka are value added here and re-shipped to Israel. Annually such diamond imports and exports exceed $ 50 million mark and in 2013, diamond exports to Israel rose to $79 million, claiming 80 percent of 2013’s Lankan exports. Tea, fish, pneumatic rubber tyres, and special yarns were other Lankan exports to Israel in 2013. In the same year, leading imports from Israel were diamonds, filaments and miscellaneous chemicals.
“Today’s session is a follow up of one of the most successful Lankan business missions to Israel. Thanks to the support of the EDB, the Ministry of External Affairs and sponsors, this time we took no less than 40 leading businessmen to Israel from Sri Lanka and completed a successful Business Forum,” said ambassador Wijesinghe.
“In August 2013, we successfully organised Israeli business and investment to Sri Lanka with the support of Indian-Sri Lankan Chamber in Israel. I also thank the sponsors Bank of Ceylon and Grand Oriental Hotel. More importantly, with the historic visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Israel this January, our bilateral relations have been enhanced to great levels-this being the first visit of any South Asian leader to Israel. I am sure that the active entry of LR Group, the Israeli agro-tech and communication tech giant to Sri Lanka will be a great boost to our agro and communication sectors.”
Herzliya-based LR Group, the Israeli project development firm operates globally in financing, constructing, and managing medium and large scale projects in developing economies. It also reportedly has a track record of creating and managing over $1 billion agriculture projects around the globe in Africa (Angola), Asia & Pacific, Russia and Central Asia, South America, and Europe. Lankan reps in the business and trade mission to Israel who were present at September 04 session also individually briefed Ambassador Wijesinghe of their business progress since their conclusion of the mission in July 2014 and shared lessons learnt in their initiatives with Israeli biz.