ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has held virtual bilateral consultations with Ethiopia for the first time on June 09 with a view to strengthening political, economic, social and cultural ties, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that three Sri Lankan apparel companies and one chemical manufacturing company based in Ethiopia investing in excess of USD 15 million and employing 5,000 Ethiopians.
The Hawassa Industrial park in Ethiopia is said to be a blueprint of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone in Sri Lanka and, at its inauguration in 2017, it was said to have an employment capacity of 6,000. Sri Lanka’s Hela Clothing has two manufacturing plants in Ethiopia which close to 3,000 workers. Isabella Socks Manufacturing Plc and Hirdaramani Garments Plc too have plants in the African nation.
The June 10 bilateral dialogue, held via video call, also focused on the potential for Sri Lankans to invest in agro processing, hydro power generation and manufacture of apparel and chemicals, the foreign ministry said.
There are also over 400 Sri Lankan professionals working in hospitality and apparel manufacturing sectors in Ethiopia while there are job opportunities for Sri Lankans in the private sector, it added.
Sri Lanka’s trade with Ethiopia stood at 37 million dollars in 2020.
“It was noted that there is potential to further expand bilateral trade and it was agreed for the Chambers of Commerce of both countries to conduct studies in this regard,” the ministry said.
“Ethiopia expressed keen interest to continue bilateral cooperation in the education and health sectors,” it added.
The Sri Lanka delegation was led by Director General of the Africa Affairs of the Foreign Ministry B Kandeepan and Director General for Asia and the Pacific of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Asfaw Mollalign.
Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, senior officials of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry and Department of Commerce also took part.
The delegates also discussed several areas of multilateral interest including Environment and Climate change and implementing SDGs and to intensify cooperation through the African Union, the ministry said. (Colombo/June10/2021)