As bilateral trade topped $ 3Bn, Sri Lanka’s exports sector is readying one of the strongest ever delegations to this year’s Kunming international expo while Lanka’s second largest global supplier voiced that it is increasingly upbeat on the prospective FTA between both countries-and the $ 190 Bn Yunnan province is keen for a Corporate Agreement with Lanka’s apex export entity, a first, as revealed on 13 January.
“The pending Sri Lanka-China FTA will be very big news for Chinese buyers and media. China is the only country stipulating imports from its trading partners! This is specially so towards South Asia since we are good neighbours” said the top Chinese official Li Jiming (Deputy Secretary-General of Yunnan Provincial Government and Director General of Yunnan International Exposition Bureau) on 13 January in Colombo.
Deputy Secretary-General Jiming was speaking at his delegation’s meeting with Ms Sujatha Weerakoone (DG-EDB) and other top officials of EDB on 13 January in Colombo. Yunnan Province’ Deputy Secretary-General Jiming, who is in charge of tourism, international trade and investment facilitation, is currently leading an eight member trade delegation to Colombo. Joining Secretary-General Jiming on 13 January were reps from Yunnain Provincial Energy Investment Group, Yunnan Jinmayuan Real Estate, Hong Kong Oriental Phoenix Development, and reps from Yunnan International Exposition Bureau. Also taking part at the 13 January discussions were Ms Jeevany Siriwardene (ADG-EDB), Dr Yousuf Maraikkar (ED-EDB), Macky Hashim (immediate Past President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and reps from Sri Lanka Gems & Jewellery Authority, and the Chamber of Commerce.
“The pending Sri Lanka-China FTA will be very big news for Chinese buyers and media. According to our 2013 statistics, for every dollar we spend on Sri Lankan market, we earn back 18! But Still China insists imports from its trading partners as well. May be China is the only country stipulating (such) imports from its trading partners! This is specially so towards South Asia since we are good neighbours” said Deputy Secretary-General Jiming, and added:
“That is why we have established China South Asia Exposition (CSAE). I am very glad to find Sri Lanka one of the best partners for these expositions-in fact Sri Lanka’s EDB is the best organiser among our foreign participants. Possibly because unlike many other foreign associations taking part in CSAE, EDB is a government body and also equipped to have a good presence. The Yunnan Provincial Government therefore is now considering the first ever Corporate Agreement to enter with Sri Lanka’s EDB, for medium to longer term cooperation. There are many new product sectors being introduced for the first time in CSAE 2015, which is really international exhibition and not a trade fair. We like to see more exports from Sri Lanka, specially high value products. ”
As for exports, in 2013, China became Sri Lanka’s second largest supplier sending $3 Bn of products here, accounting for 17% of Sri Lanka’s total imports. Bilateral trade total with China in 2013 stood at US$ 3,081 Mn. China was the 18th export destination for Sri Lanka with an export value of $ 121 Mn contributing 1.2% of total export earnings in 2013. Sri Lanka’s exports to China has grown over the past 5 years increasing from US$ 59 Mn in 2009 to 2013’s $121 Mn. Yunnan, the resource rich, $ 190 Bn provincial GDP southern Chinese province and a national GDP driver, hosts the China–South Asia Expo and the Kunming Fair Yunnan’s capital Kunming every year in June. The Kunming Fair has become one of the four top annual events (such as the Canton Fair) in China’s trade calendar. Due to its high prominence in the trillion dollar GDP nation, the Kunming Fair has become the second biggest annual trade fair in the South West China region. Sri Lanka has consistently been one of the strongest South Asian participants at this expo and has been taking part in this event when it was held for the first time in Beijing in 2007.
“We are currently preparing one of the strongest ever delegations to this year’s CSAE fair and we also positively view Yunnan Provincial Government’s interest in entering in to a Corporate Agreement with EDB, which enhances bilateral cooperation greatly” said a keen Sujatha Weerakoone (DG-EDB), responding to Deputy Secretary-General Jiming, and added: “Under the guidance of our new President (HE) Maithripala Sirisena and our Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, who is in charge of Sri Lanka’s national exports, this year too EDB is planning a very strong Lankan team to Kunming, with 100 display booths at the fair. There is strong demand for Kunming fair from our exporters. And this year, Lankan presence will expand from exports, trade to tourism and investment as well. We also secured special presentation slots at the Kunming Business and Investment Forum.”
On 04 June 2014, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen successfully led a Lankan delegation of 119 companies facilitated by the EDB to take part in the second China–South Asia Expo and 22nd Kunming Fair and the Lankan delegation garnered more than $4.6 Mn export orders from this event.