Afghanistan and Sri Lanka sign historic MOU to expand bilateral trade

The CEOs of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment, Sayed Zaman Hashemi, and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Manjula de Silva, virtually signed a historic MOU of Cooperation between the two Chambers on Monday, September 28, 2020.

The MOU provides for the establishment of an Afghanistan-Sri Lanka Trade Desk within both Chambers, helping implement both sides’ shared commercial goals.

Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari witnessed the signing ceremony at the Offices of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and delivered remarks after the two CEOs exchanged views on the numerous business and investment opportunities in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, taking into account the existing low volume of bilateral trade. Hence, they pledged to work with the Embassies of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in Colombo and Kabul to implement the MOU for realizing the vast trade and investment potential that exists between the two South Asian nations.

“I am delighted to witness the fruition of our shared hard efforts over the past year to sign this historic MOU between our two Chambers of Commerce, which I have no doubt will work together, in partnership with our two Embassies here and in Kabul, to foster and deepen commercial ties between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka,” commented Ambassador Haidari. He also acknowledged the strong support from the leaderships of both countries for the further expansion of bilateral relations, especially full-spectrum connectivity for trade and investment, thereby forging long-lasting people-to-people ties between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

The MOU seeks to enable the two Chambers to “disseminate all such information as may be relevant to enhance bilateral trade and business; initiate and promote joint ventures, partnerships and other business linkages; provide technical expertise; arrange visits between the two countries; formulate proposals to accelerate bilateral relations; and convene meetings, conferences, and discussions.”

To that end, both sides agreed to hold regular webinars, including major investors, to exchange business ideas and to discuss the specifics of investment opportunities in agribusiness (tea, saffron, coconut oil, fresh fruits and dried nuts), services (skilled and unskilled labor), logistics, textiles (garments, rugs and carpets), gemstones (precious and semi-precious stones), tourism, medical tourism, higher education tourism, as well as other sectors of mutual investment interest.

Moreover, the Ambassador took note of the pending Air Services Agreement and Trade and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement to be signed between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, which he said would further enhance and facilitate bilateral trade. Once signed, he noted that Afghanistan and Sri Lanka could initiate to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to remove all barriers to easy and profitable trade and investment between the two friendly countries, with growing ties in all areas of bilateral cooperation.