As bilateral trade surged by more than 130%, trade talks between Turkey and Sri Lanka re-opened on November 11 in Ankara after 26 years. Turkey has also been invited by Sri Lanka to exploit the island’s present and future trade agreements with South Asia for bigger trade gains.

“Turkey is a very important trading partner for Sri Lanka. The strong relationship between the two countries has grown steadily over the past years”, said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Ankara.

Minister Bathiudeen was delivering his opening statement at the Second Session of the Sri Lanka –Turkey Joint Committee Meeting of Technical and Economic Cooperation in Ankara on November 11. Minister Bathiudeen led the Sri Lankan delegation to Ankara while the Turkish side was led by Minister of Education of Turkey Ismet Yilmaz. In 2015, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $230 million.

“Sri Lanka and Turkey have enjoyed 68 years of formally established diplomatic relations in recent history. The initiative to establish the Sri Lanka- Turkey Joint Committee in 1991 is a landmark in our partnership.” said Minister Bathiudeen. He added: “The first round of Sri Lanka Turkey Joint Committee on Technical and Economic Cooperation after 26 years takes place at a momentous time in Sir Lanka when Sri Lanka is pursuing an open and transparent agenda to strengthen democracy and its structures and the rule of law to ensure that the fruits of democracy peace and prosperity are enjoyed by its people. On the economic front Sri Lanka being a founder member of the GATT as well as WTO has been fully committed to liberal and market oriented Economic policies.”

“Let us target trade volume to $500 million by 2020,” said the Turkish Minister Ismet Yilmaz. He added: “Relations between both countries span a broad range of aspects. During today’s meeting we finalised many areas of cooperation which is a positive development.”

Bilateral trade between the two countries is on a growing trend, registering an increase of around 135% by 2015 when compared to 2005.