Sri Lanka has been given a fresh opportunity to showcase its investment and export portfolios to the emerging markets as well as the huge Russian region through a premier global Forum, dubbed as Russia’s Davos.
“St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is a unique event in the world of business and economics. We officially invite you to SPIEF 2017” said Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alexander Karchava last week. Ambassador Karchava was addressing Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen during his call on Minister Bathiudeen at the Ministry. Joining the Minister was Secretary to the Ministry Chinthana Lokuhetti and DG Commerce Sonali Wijeratne.
Dubbed as Russia’s Davos, SPIEF is a huge annual conference targeted at the highest levels of government personalities across the world, drawing high ranking participants. Among global figures at last year’s SPIEF were Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, President of European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
“This Forum has become a leading global platform for representatives of the business community to meet and discuss the key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets and rest of the world. It’s held under the auspices of the President of the Russian Federation. Our Deputy Prime Minister & Chief of Staff Sergey Prikhodko has invited you to join us at SPIEF 2017” revealed Ambassador Karchava and added: “SPIEF clearly strengthens the continuity of Russian – Sri Lankan ties. The basis of diverse cooperation laid down in previous years opens vast possibilities for further development. Our countries have actively developed the positive tendency of interstate relations. Our trade relations are strong and Russia buys more and more Lankan products. Russia’s leading imports from Sri Lanka have been Ceylon tea, fisheries, apparel and yarn.”
According to the Department of Commerce, exports to Russia recorded US $ 181.98 million in 2016. Russia became the 12th leading buyer of Lankan products taking 22% of Sri Lanka’s total exports to the world in 2015. Tea, apparel, fibres are the main exports to Russia –tea accounts for more than 70% of total exports. Among top imports from Russia to Sri Lanka in 2016 were iron, steel, wheat, asbestos and coal.
Bathiudeen, responding to Ambassador Karchava said Sri Lanka’s participation at SPIEF 2017 shall enhance the country’s appeal in the Russian region. “Sri Lanka-Russia bilateral relations have a history of close cooperation in many products. We are also looking to expand our trade with Russia which is less than $400 Mn at present. There are unexplored trade potentials that could be worked on through our participation at SPIEF. SPIEF can also open doors to new Russian Federation markets for Sri Lanka’s exports.” Total bilateral trade between the two countries stood at US $ 382 Mn in 2016.
At 2016’s SPIEF, more than 350 economic agreements were signed, of which the total value exceeded US $ 15 Bn (Ruble one trillion & 46 million). Among last year’s SPIEF partnering multinationals were Gazprom, PwC, Aeroflot, Mercedes-Benz Russia and VTB Bank. Bathiudeen and Ambassador Karchava also discussed other aspects of bilateral business and trade cooperation during their meeting.