Sri Lanka, Philippines seek direct flights
EconomyNext – Sri Lanka and the Philippines are to renew a trade deal signed in 1980, which has remained inactive, with an exchange of business delegations starting in June and direct flights later.
The Philippines, the second fastest growing country in Asia after China, also wants to have direct air services and co-operate in boat building with Sri Lanka, visiting Philippines Ambassador to Sri Lanka Vicente Vivencio T. Bandillo said.
"Opening direct flights in the Manila – Colombo sector can help Filipino workers moving to and from the Middle East greatly," the Dhaka-based Philippines envoy told Minister of Industry & Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen during talks in Colombo.
"SriLankan Airlines too can consider opening direct flights to the Middle East and we welcome them to Manila.”
Bandillo also said that with the Philippines being a nation of islands, there is great demand for boats.
"We use the twin-hulled ‘catamarans’ extensively and we need them in basic as well as luxury range for use in inter-island shipping," he said according to a statement.
"With Sri Lanka’s boat building technology and reputation, you can start supplying us modern catamarans and boats for which there is strong demand there."
The first trade agreement was signed in 1980 to develop and strengthen direct trade and economic relations between the two countries followed in 2000 by a deal on bilateral communications cooperation.
Bathiudeen total annual trade between both countries was only around 35-40 million US dollars and that Sri Lanka wanted to increase trade volumes.
The Department of Commerce said apparel was the main export from Sri Lanka to th Philippine in 2013, accounting for 46 percent of total volumes. Other export items were rubber tyres, gloves, tea, trailers and semi-trailers and chemical derivatives.
The main imports from the Philippines to Sri Lanka were cereals and wood products.