Qatar-Sri Lanka economic ties enter defining moment
16 Sep 2018 – 8:40
FROM LEFT: Doha Bank CEO Dr R Seetharaman, Sri Lanka’s Central Bank Governor Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy and Sri Lankan Ambassador to Qatar, A S P Liyanage, during the ‘Qatar-Sri Lanka Bilateral Opportunities’ event hosted by Doha Bank.
DOHA: Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Qatar, A S P Liyanage, has said the bilateral relations between Qatar and Sri Lanka in terms of trade, investment, tourism and other activities will be further bolstered with the launch of ‘Sri Lanka Qatar Business Council’.
The soon to be launched Council will offer unique opportunities for both countries to engage with each other, where Qatar based entrepreneurs can explore the opportunities in major areas such as investments, food & agriculture, hospitality, oil and gas, infrastructure, tourism; and trade services.
“I am pleased to inform that the Sri Lankan Embassy in Qatar, under the guidance of, the President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, with the support of Doha Bank, have made arrangements to form ‘the Sri Lanka Qatar Business Council’ which would enable to improve the bilateral relations between two countries,” the Ambassador said while addressing a knowledge sharing session hosted by Doha Bank on ‘Qatar-Sri Lanka Bilateral Opportunities,’ here on Thursday.
Sri Lanka’s Central Bank Governor Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy said Qatar and Sri Lankan banks have excellent relationships and Sri Lanka wants to take it to the next level. Qatar is a key contributor to Sri Lanka’s remittances, he said.
Sri Lanka’s economic growth was at 3.3 percent in 2017 and will be returning to 4 percent by end of this year. The outlook for Sri Lanka remains strong with improved macroeconomic conditions.
The economy is expected to rebound to a higher growth path in the medium term with the implementation of policy reforms by the government. Inflation is expected to remain within the targeted band of 4-6 percent. The Central Bank is moving towards Flexible Inflation Targeting (FIT) by 2020.
He said the fiscal consolidation efforts are expected to bring down the budget deficit to 3.5 percent by 2020 while both the current account and primary balances are expected to be surpluses. The external sector strengthened with a higher level of international reserves underpinned by a better export performance, a flexible exchange rate policy and continuous inflows to the financial account.
The Government’s Economic Vision seeks to transform Sri Lanka into a hub of the Indian Ocean.
Commenting on Qatar’s economic growth Doha Bank CEO Dr R Seetharaman said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is set to grow 2.6 percent this year. Responding to the blockade, Qatar has emerged strong and has brought various reforms to transform itself into a self-reliant economy.
In 2017 Qatar has waived entry visa requirements for citizens of 80 countries. The upcoming law on foreign investment will allow non-Qatari businesses to have 100 per cent capital in companies can evidence interest from Sri Lankan investors.
Dr Seetharaman said Sri Lanka’s Vision 2025 programme is aimed to position the country as an export hub in the Indian Ocean. As per Vision 2025, concrete steps will be taken to move from exporting mainly low-technology products to high-tech products and attracting investments.
He said the past three years witnessed a further strengthening in diplomatic relationships between Qatar and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has enjoyed close ties with Qatar, with over 140,000 Sri Lankans in Qatar. Sri Lanka is capable of lending enormous support to Qatar’s food security programme.
Sri Lankan companies are looking to take part in Qatari projects and establish joint ventures in various sectors. Qatari corporate can also explore opportunities in Sri Lanka‘s infrastructure and energy sector, he added.
Dr Mohamed Z M Aazim, Superintendent and Registrar, Public Debt Department, Sri Lanka said the country’s financial sector remained resilient with a strengthened regulatory and supervisory framework in line with international standards and best practices.
“Since domestic demand is insufficient to achieve high economic growth, the export orientation of the economy is being enhanced, with conducive trade and investment policies, including the better utilisation of existing trade agreements, establishment of new trade links, and a competitive exchange rate policy.
“Government had already provided policy and institutional support to improve external trade. Free Trade Agreements will serve as a gateway to larger markets. Scope of goods based agreement with India will be expanded to include comprehensive partnership agreement,” he said.
Trade arrangements with India, China and EU will differentiate Sri Lanka from many of its peers, with wider access to fast growing markets and thereby benefiting and accelerating its growth potential. The IMF acknowledged the progress made by Sri Lanka to stabilise the economy and support growth, he stressed.