Sri Lanka Desirous to Expand Bilateral Trade, Investment Relations with Ethiopia: Amb. Kumarasiri

Sri Lanka is keen to expand bilateral trade and investment cooperation with Ethiopia, Ambassador K.K Theshantha Kumarasiri said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, the ambassador said there are many Sri Lankan business entrepreneurs interested in investing and doing trade with Ethiopia.

Ambassador Kumarasiri stated that Sri Lanka has recently proposed for the first time to sign a MoU with the Addis Chamber and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

“It is a business interaction that we are going to sign by which we expect to establish a kind of institutional framework where entrepreneurs could utilize that potential so that we expand the trade,” he explained.

According to him, there is potential for enhancing trade interaction.

Moreover, the ambassador revealed that there is another MoU, particularly with the construction industry, adding bilateral trade and inter construction industry is also moving forward in a positive direction.

He pointed out that President Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had a bilateral meeting in Kampala during the Non-Alignment Summit where they discussed the potential for future cooperation, particularly on the green economy, low economic initiatives, climate change action, and also initiatives like agriculture, energy and potential areas of cooperation.

“We are very much interested in expanding our relations,” the ambassador said, disclosing that President Wickremesinghe introduced a new initiative called Look Africa in February last year with the participation of ambassadors of foreign countries accredited to Sri Lanka.

The president initiated this foreign policy initiative to engage more with African countries, particularly in areas of agriculture, energy, green economy, and also financial institutions as we always depend on external sources of financing for industries.

Under the South-South cooperation, his government is also promoting cooperation with the South countries, particularly in addressing common issues related to climate, education, and governance.

About investment in Ethiopia, the ambassador said there are 4 major Sri Lankan apparel manufacturing industries with a capital of over 15 million USD.

Ambassador Kumarasiri noted that the main attraction was of course AGOA. But without that duty-free access now they were struggling to find new market access to Europe, the UK, France, and Germany.

“Through the support of the Government of Ethiopia and other supportive measures by the Ethiopian institutions, however, all the companies expanded again their manufacturing capacity.”

There are also several Sri Lankans, almost 200 Sri Lankan experts in Ethiopia in the apparel manufacturing industry, working in other companies, not only the Sri Lankan own company but of course, companies belonging to India, Chinese, and South Korean companies.

They are contributing to the economy and also enhance the capacity of young people employed in those industries, the ambassador elaborated.

Furthermore, “the Government of Sri Lanka has invited Ethiopian Airlines to commence a direct flight to Colombo, through which we expect actually to enhance our trade interaction and also investment and also tourism sector because Sri Lanka has almost 200 years of history of tourism industry and well-established hospitality industries.”

We are again thinking of collaborating in the hospitality industry and have proposed to the Ministry of Tourism here to sign a MoU with its Sri Lankan counterpart, the ambassador revealed.

In addition, several companies have approached us to build a kind of connection between Ethiopia and Sri Lanka in the energy sector and nature-based cosmetic industry.

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