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Sri Lanka targets US$700mn in trade with Russia

Beijing will lower import tariffs on more than 850 products including frozen pork from next month.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is aiming to increase bilateral trade with Russia to 700 million US dollars, and continue policies set by the previous administration, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said.

“Sri Lanka and Russia are keen to further expand the bilateral economic engagement and increase bilateral trade to meet target volume of 700 million US dollars,” Gunawardena said at a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Relations Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The 700 million trade target was set by former President Maithripala Sirisena in 2017 during a visit to Russia.

“Our discussions focused on continuing the political dialogue and advancing bilateral economic and technical cooperation within the Russia-Sri Lanka Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation,” Gunawardena said.

Lavrov said Russia needs further interaction with local markets to support infrastructure development.

“We know Sri Lanka is keen to receive our support in the areas of hydrocarbon exploration and building tourism infrastructure. For these to take shape, we need to establish more direct contact with the [Sri Lankan] business community,” Lavrov said.

Gunawardena said joint ventures business for rubber products, coconuts products, spices, herbal drinks, ceramics, fish and gem and jewellery between Sri Lanka and Russia would be encouraged and given priority.

Sri Lanka and Russia have agreed to cooperate in agriculture, food, fisheries, water management, education, trade, investment, tourism, security and defence, renewable power and science and technology.

Russia is Sri Lanka’s 15th largest export market and 24th largest source of imports.

According to official data Sri Lanka had exported 185 million US dollars or 1.6 percent out of the total to Russia, most of which were from tea.

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Sri Lanka had imported 204 million US dollars or 0.9 percent out of the total imports in 2018 from Russia. (Colombo/Jan14/2020)

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