26th April 2011, www.island.lk
Sri Lanka is keen to expand trade ties with Mexico and eventually gain greater access to markets in the US and Canada. A visiting Mexican diplomat says he was keen to promote Mexican and Indian investments in to Sri Lanka. Business partnerships between Mexican and Sri Lankan companies will help accessing the difficult North American markets.
Identifying focal points of representation for trade in Mexico, and in Sri Lanka, will be a step in this direction, said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce.
The minister made these comments he met Jaime Nualart, Mexican Ambassador to India, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka at the ministry premises in Colombo 3. Nualart is leading a Mexican business delegation to Colombo. This is the first ever official Mexican business delegation to visit Sri Lanka.
"The bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Mexico stand at US $ 63 million. But what is important is that this is still a small volume and there is much potential between the two countries to enhance it further," Bathiudeen said.
Mexico was ranked Sri Lanka’s 26th largest export destination in 2010. Sri Lanka’s exports to Mexico have increased gradually since 2002, from US$ 38.26 million to US$ 60.99 million in 2010. Sri Lanka’s exports to Mexico are currently dominated by cinnamon, taking 60% of the total volume.
"To enhance the regularity of our bilateral cooperation and strengthen it further, frequent visits by business delegations to each other countries are crucial. Also, participation in trade fairs will strengthen trade cooperation further. To achieve our bilateral trade targets, we need to pursue a strategic trade vision, especially to harness synergies of Mexican and Sri Lankan entrepreneurs through mutually beneficial partnerships to exploit promising market opportunities in the US and Canada, opened by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)," the minister said.
Bathiudeen informed the Mexican delegation that apparel, construction, pharmaceuticals, high-end shopping malls and multiplex cinemas are promising areas for investments in Sri Lanka.
Mexican Ambassador Nualart said that he would also invite Mexican businesspersons in India to invest in Sri Lanka. He expressed strong interest in investing here in food processing, multiplex cinemas and construction, specially shopping complexes.
"We want to share information and latest data with Sri Lanka", Nualart said.
Aldo Ruiz (Investment and trade Commissioner, Mexican Ministry of Economy), said: "Bringing Mexican food processing technology here will enormously assist Sri Lanka’s agro base (to access international markets)". Speaking of Mexican investments in India, Nualart said that housing, industrial electrical transformers, water pumps, catalytic converters and food products are key Mexican manufacturing investments in India.
Bandula Somasiri, Acting Director General of Department of Commerce, addressing the delegation briefed the delegation on Sri Lanka’s liberal trade regime and its opportunities for Mexico. "Sri Lanka wants to diversify its exports basket to Mexico," he said.
"The bilateral trade between the two countries stand at US $ 63. Our exports to Mexico amount to US$ 61 million while imports amount to US$ 2 million. What is important is that I strongly believe that our bilateral trade volume is still a small volume and there is much potential between the two countries to enhance it further," Bathiudeen said.
"What is exciting is that new products such as apparels, rubber and coconut-based products, are added to our export basket. Some other potential products for export expansion are tea in value added form, processed vegetables and fruits, prefabricated building materials, tents, sails, activated carbon, gem and jewellery, leather products and ceramic and porcelain," the minister said.