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'MoU, a thrust to knit Lanka-Belgium trade ties'



Conference : Counsellor, International Trade, for Belgium, Sicille Kotelawala,(centre) First Secretary to the Consul for Belgium, Koenraad Pringires and officials.

TRADE: Trade between Sri Lanka and Belgium would increase next year and the signing of the MoU between the SLFP and UNP too would lead to higher volumes of bilateral trade.

Counsellor for International Trade for Belgium, Sicille Kotelawala said that Belgium is the second largest trade partner to Sri Lanka from the EU with total value of 189.44 million Euros.

She said that out of the Sri Lanka exports over 70 percent are value added finished diamond products out of which 70 percent is being exported by Blue Diamonds owned by the Ceylinco Group.

The remaining exports include value added tobacco products, Load Star tyres, garments and candles. The main imports include pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other items.

Kotelawala said that Blue Diamonds Ltd is the largest diamond cutting and polishing factory in Asia and they employ over 1500 and the export value of the company is over $ 200 million.

First Secretary to the Consul for Belgium, Koenraad Pringires said that an investment delegation from the country is already in Sri Lanka to coincide with the Belgium week.

The investors are looking at joint ventures in tourism, tobacco, textile industry, supply of aluminum building material, and into infrastructure projects such as building bridges, tunnels and roads.

Executive Director A. R. Concept Belgium Stephan Jaumot said that they are looking at constructing a luxury hotel in Sri Lanka and was to meet the Minister of Tourism Anura Bandaranaike.

During the Belgium week, seminars, one to one business meetings were held while Belgium beer and chocolates too were launched.

In 1998, the Consulate of Belgium in Sri Lanka established a commercial section to assist and advise the Belgian entrepreneurs and the Sri Lankan counterparts in a professional manner.

Various initiatives have been taken, in collaboration with Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) and Agence Wallonne a I'Exportation (AWEX), to encourage and develop trade relations and Belgian investments in Sri Lanka and vice versa.

The tsunami caused a massive wave of destruction, but also reinforced the mutual understanding and relationship between Sri Lanka and Belgium through the presence of the Belgian Army, financial support from the Belgian Government, private companies, Belgian Red Cross and other Non-Governmental Organisations.

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