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SL announces plans to regain Egyptian market

3 years ago

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Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has called for the regaining of Sri Lanka’s economic prominence in Egypt.

The Foreign Secretary made this observation on Thursday (12 December 2019) when he addressed the Inaugural Session of the Bilateral Political Consultations between Sri Lanka and Egypt at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo.

The Session was Co-Chaired by the Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister for Asia Ambassador Hany Selim.

It was recalled that while in the 1980s Sri Lanka provided 60% of Egypt’s tea requirement, it had presently dropped to only 5% following the imposition of high tariffs and later the emergence of regional trading blocs in Africa. However, premier tea brands such as Dilmah, Superfine, Akbar, Impra and JAFF continue to offer gourmet specialty tea to the discerning tea connoisseurs in Egypt that needed to be expanded.

Egypt is also the largest market of desiccated coconut from Sri Lanka for the purpose of confectionary industry. In addition, Sri Lanka has been exporting rubber products, leather products, spices, coir products, confectionary, cocoa and cocoa based products, porcelain and ceramic ware.

Sri Lanka’s imports from Egypt are mainly chemical and plastic products, metal-based products, fertilizer, oils and fresh fruits. Tourism was identified as a potential growth area, while modalities to ensure sustainable investment flows were also discussed during the consultations. To this end, it was also agreed to revive the Egypt-Sri Lanka Business Council originally founded in 2004, and to reconvene the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation which last met in 2002.

Opportunities for Sri Lanka to benefit from Egyptian Technical Support in cultivating Citrus, pomegranate, mango, dates and expanding agricultural training opportunities from the Egyptian International Centre for Agriculture (EICA) was reviewed, while Egypt showed interest to obtain plant materials of Pineapple, red banana, custard apple.

Egypt has requested Sri Lankan investors to invest in the field of Agriculture, Tourism, textile and garment industries, Communication & Information Technologies, Oil refinement, while Sri Lanka welcomed Egyptian investors to the Colombo Port City.

On security and defense cooperation, joint efforts in combating terrorism, extremism and transnational crime, reactivation of the security cooperation agreement signed in 1996,  training opportunities in peace keeping at the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peace building (CCCPA), and in counter-terrorism at the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) and other Training institutions in Sri Lanka, as well as establishing a focal point to share information and experiences with Egyptian authorities on preventing human smuggling and drug trafficking was discussed.

The possibility was explored for Sri Lanka to obtain know-how in the development of Medical Tourism and to build bridges between the youth in both counties through enhanced participation of Sri Lanka Youth in World Youth Forum in Egypt. The importance of broad basing the current educational cooperation in Islamic religious education, to also include Medical, Management, Science, Engineering, and Archeology in Egyptian Universities was emphasized and the Egyptian side presented a draft MOU for consideration which offered 2 Undergraduate and 6 Graduate opportunities. Recognizing that Sri Lanka and Egypt were likeminded on global issues and had close collaboration in multilateral fora, the possibility of conducting Diplomatic Training for Junior Diplomats of both countries to appreciate the common global challenges faced was discussed.

The two delegations also reviewed modalities for further cooperation between the two countries in international fora and within the African Union (AU), where Egypt is the current Chair. Developments in the Middle East and Africa, as well as Asia, and shared perspectives on a range of current international issues where Egypt and Sri Lanka cooperate including disarmament, migration, human rights and implementation of the SDGs were also discussed.

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