In post-sanctions Iran’s ground-breaking first bilateral with Sri Lanka, the country has called for unprecedented level of engagement with Sri Lanka in multiple spheres-and stressed that business sectors of both sides shall lead the way. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka readily rallied its call for re-visiting the understanding on the prospective Preferential Trade Agreement between both countries that was agreed way back in 2004!
“In the new atmosphere which comes after this JCEC plan of action and also favourable conditions in international arena to carry out serious activities, are very attractive for entrepreneurs involved in these sectors. Iran and its new international atmosphere with respect to resolving Iran’s sanctions is completely ready to boost bilateral commercial relations and would like to increase the level of cooperation with Sri Lanka more than ever” announced an upbeat Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian on 24 February in Colombo.
Iranian Minister Chitchian was delivering his opening remarks in the 11th Joint Commission for Economic Co-operation (JCEC) sessions on the morning of Wednesday 24th at Kingsbuty, Colombo.
The first ever JCEC between Sri Lanka and Iran to be held in Iran’s post-sanction era, the session packed more than 100 delegates from both sides for a full day of technical trade discussions. All top Lankan Ministries and agencies-including Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Treasury, Customs and accreditation bodies, and even reps from Chambers were joining the session. Sri Lankan delegation was lead by Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
The Iranian delegation was led by the powerful and high profile Energy Minister of Iran Hamid Chitchian. Among the 30 member Iranian delegation were reps from Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Petroleum, Utilities, Power & Energy, as well as Iranian National Standards Organisation, Iranian Export Development Bank, and the state owned petroleum giant the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) packed the session. Also joining the session were Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohammed Zaeri Amirani, TMKB Thennakoon (Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce), and Director General of Commerce Ms Sonali Wijeratne, among others.
“I believe that the JCEC and exchange of delegations strengthens bilateral ties, investment opportunities and remove possible obstacles. Iran emphasizes development of relations with all countries. This important policy is apparent in the government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in stressing the joint plan of action and solving the nuke issue and pressing ahead with Iran’s determination of further consolidation of friendly relations and cooperation with all countries in the world. Expanding the level of Iran’s relationship in all spheres with Sri Lanka is one of the most important goals of Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran attaches special attention to all Asian countries and in the meantime to Sri Lanka’s position as well. Cooperation and relations between Sri Lanka and foreign policy of Iran must be promoted through bilateral relations particularly in economic, energy, commercial, tourism, training, and health sectors. I myself as the Chairman of Iranian Joint Economic Commission believe that such a momentous goal require greater use of all available capacities along with the practical implementation of the articles of MoU between the two sides.”
“Iran is currently implementing two major projects in Sri Lanka – Uma Oya and electrification of 1000 Lankan villages in Sri Lanka. I hope the implementation of these projects will help enhance the quality of life of these people. Today I am honored to see that all issues with these two projects have been solved by officials of both countries and by the two Iranian companies -FARAB and SUNIR. The Uma Oya project is running in progress in all aspects. Electrification of 1000 villages project is to achieve 90% target very soon. We consider these two big projects as the very first stepping stones of our cooperation and we hope to define more effective and bigger projects for effective cooperation in our efforts. I invite the Iranian and Lankan partners to implement and finish the projects in due time, and ask the executives of the projects to report their implementation progress stage by stage.”
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen stressed the unrealised trade potentials between both countries and stresses the importance of trade with post-sanctions Iran for Sri Lanka.
This Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation mechanism has played a very important and a crucial role in enhancing our relations in diverse fields that are of interest to both countries.
The technical sessions between of 11th JCEC between both countries concluded with a way-forward MoU signed yesterday (24 February).