The first official delegation to Sri Lanka from the post-sanctions Iran will arrive in Colombo as early as February 23 to start crucial joint trade talks, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said today.
“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,” the newly appointed Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mohammed Zaeri Amirani said at a meeting with the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
According to the Department of Commerce, bilateral Trade between the two countries surpassed $ 1 billion in 2011 and in 2012 two-way trade totaled $ 857.81 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 the total trade declined to $660 million from 2011’s $1.4 billion.
Amirani said that Tehran has accepted Sri Lanka’s suggestion to hold a Joint Trade Commission and Iran is eagerly looking forward to meet Sri Lankan officials in Colombo this February.
“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,” he said.
Minister Bathiudeen said despite the sanctions being imposed, Iranians supported Sri Lanka during its war.
“We warmly welcome the official delegation from Tehran for this year’s Joint Commission Talks that start on February 24 in Colombo. I have appointed a committee consisting of my top officials and stakeholders to prepare for this year’s Joint Commission and the committee will conduct local stakeholder meetings as well. With the lifting of sanctions, Iran-Sri Lanka total trade can expect a major turnaround,” the Minister said.
The European Union (EU) and the United States announced this week their decision to lift nuclear-related sanctions on Iran after the UN nuclear watchdog confirmed Tehran’s commitments to a July deal. (Colombo Gazette)