Astana – Colombo to unlock the partnership potential

Nov 21. Kazpravda

By Laura Tusupbekova

Astana - Colombo to unlock the partnership potentialYesterday Nursultan Nazarbayev met with the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa, who arrived in Kazakhstan on a state visit.

The Sri Lankan leader is paying his first visit to our country at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, made at the Summit of the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg in 2011. As Mahinda Rajapaksa noted at the meeting, this visit will stimulate development of mutually beneficial cooperation between Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka.

Nursultan Nazarbayev said we view this visit, which takes place in the year of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, as an extension of political and economic ties between the countries. Being one of the most dynamic economies of South Asia, Sri Lanka ranks first in terms of GDP per capita in the region. Kazakhstan is glad the years of conflict have ended in Sri Lanka and the country has overcome the global financial crisis.

He believes the potential of trade and economic cooperation is not fully tapped, therefore measures were identified to enhance it. Kazakhstan invites Sri Lankan business for a part in the program of accelerated industrial-innovative development. Of particular interest is their experience in agribusiness, also in development of electric power, transport and tourism. Light industry, specifically textile production is deemed a promising cooperation area as well.

Cooperation areas were further specified at the Kazakhstan- Sri Lanka business forum the same day in Astana. In addition, the talks between the heads of states resulted in the signed cooperation agreement in tourism; framework agreements on economic cooperation, mutual protection of investments and avoidance of double taxation are yet to be signed. Kazakh-Lankan intergovernmental commission for trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation will be formed in a short term.

During the talks, views on international issues were exchanged. – We have discussed the situation in South Asia, energy and regional security, the impact of the global financial crisis. Our views on the international agenda are shared. I thanked the President for the support of our country’s bid for hosting EXPO 2017. We have agreed to cooperate in the framework of the SCO and other organizations. I invited Sri Lanka to become a member of the CICA, – said Kazakhstan President.

Thanking Nursultan Nazarbayev for hospitality, the Sri Lankan leader noted consistent development of the interstate relations. Over the recent years, the turnover went 60% up, and there is a good outlook for its further growth.

– This is the reason why large Sri Lankan business delegation arrived in Astana, – said M. Rajapaksa. -The two countries have ample potential for the development of trade and economic relations, of direct foreign investment, particularly in the tourism industry. He also announced the intention of signing in a short term a series of bilateral agreements, including on launching air communication and on visa facilitation.

The Sri Lankan leader praised President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s statesmanship and his world-recognized initiative of establishing dialogue among Asian nations in the CICA frames. He announced Sri Lanka’s intention to seek observer status in the organization, to support the application of Astana for hosting EXPO in 2017, and congratulated Kazakhstan on election to the UN Human Rights Council.

Mahinda Rajapaksa invited Nursultan Nazarbayev to pay the first state visit to Sri Lanka.

* * *

In quest of mutually beneficial contacts

Nov 21. Kazpravda

By Rysty Alibekova

Kazakhstan-Sri Lankan business forum took place in Astana, in which the Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov shared, and the Sri Lankan delegation was led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The forum was organized by Kazakhstan MINT, JSC “Kaznex invest” and the Chamber of Commerce.

The business forum started with the oil lamp lighting ceremony to the sound of music and beat of drum. This ancient Lankan tradition, symbolizing success and prosperity, unveiled the country’s exotic world.

…Addressing the business forum, Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov noted that, unfortunately, the Kazakhstan-Sri Lankan trade and economic cooperation is still not up to the mark. Therefore the business and our governments must seek ways to fully tap the cooperation capacity to make it fruitful. And the opportunities for it are there. Now that the world is changing dynamically, the distances between the two countries will not be an impediment due to a developed infrastructure and telecommunications.

The PM suggested the Lankan business and Government explored promising projects in Kazakhstan, say, in mining industry and agriculture, specifically our grain export. Kazakhstan exports grain to more than 70 countries, and Sri Lanka could be one of them. We are interested in Sri Lankan experience in tourism industry. Kazakh tourists are willing to travel to the Ceylon island to learn the history and culture of this far-away, yet close in spirit country of Sri Lanka.

Telling of the ongoing economic diversification and upgrade in our country, attracting investment, the prospects opening up to third countries with the establishment of the Customs Union, the prime minister also expressed hope that both countries’ businessmen will find the way to each other, and the visit of Sri Lankan President will give a good impetus to the partnership development.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris expressed confidence that the business forum will be a starting point for improvement of economic cooperation between the two countries. He talked of the economic upsurge in Sri Lanka in the last few years, the international financial institutions’ positive ratings of the economic development in the country despite the world recession, tourism development, formation of the country as a commercial and maritime hub.

– Turning over a new page in our relations, I expect a big leap in the trade and economic cooperation, – he said.

GL Peiris urged Kazakhstan business to explore his country’s opportunities and invest in its economy.

The chairmen of RK and Ceylon Chambers of Commerce Sabyr Esimbekov and Susanto Ratnayake signed a MoU.

The parties talked over investment opportunities and cooperation areas in: tourism, Ceylon tea, spices, jewels, textiles, ceramics, rubber and plastics production and others.

It is known that as of this-year H1 the sales turnover between the two countries makes $ 4.3 million. The main import articles from Sri Lanka in our country are the famous Ceylon tea, which accounts for 89% of total import, products of wood and other plant materials.

Kazakhstan views Sri Lanka as a potential sales market of domestic goods (machinery, equipment, building materials, grain). There are significant opportunities for increased imports from Sri Lanka of organic produce (fruits and vegetables), textiles, foods, jewelry and ceramic articles, agricultural and seafood, as well as pharmaceuticals.