‘Ample scope for Australia-Sri Lanka trade’ | Sunday Observer

‘Ample scope for Australia-Sri Lanka trade’

10 November, 2019
Australian holiday makers enjoying a boat ride
Australian holiday makers enjoying a boat ride

Sri Lanka’s bilateral trade with Australia will grow in the coming years as both countries are keen to build new partnerships and enhance trade volumes, High Commissioner (HC) of Australia to Sri Lanka, David Holly told a forum on ‘Bilateral Trade Between Sri Lanka and Australia’ in Colombo last week.

It was organised by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka.

He said there is an ample scope to increase bilateral trade since both counties have forged strong ties and share common interests.

Trade in bilateral goods and services between Sri Lanka and Australia passed the A$ 1.5 billion mark for the first time to reach A$ 1.6 billion in 2018, a 30 percent increase over the previous year. Trade between Australia and Sri Lanka notched A$ 1.3 billion in 2016-17 backed by strong growth in services.

Trade in goods and services between the two countries so far this year has declined marginally due to the Easter Sunday attacks. However, both countries are optimistic that the growth momentum could be revived with stability restored in the country.

“Sri Lankan businesses are increasingly seeing Australia as a good partner due to the array of opportunities offered by Australia to its trading partners,” the Ambassador said.

Australia has completed 28 consecutive years of annual economic growth with the world’s 11th highest GDP per capita and the sixth largest pool of investment funds.

“It is not surprising, therefore, that more Sri Lankan businesses and skilled professionals are partnering with their counterparts in Australia in commerce, partnership and investment,” the High Commissioner said.

Sri Lanka has a sizeable population domiciled in Australia which helps the country to build partnerships for trade and investment. According to statistics, over 200,000 Sri Lankans live in Australia.

The launch of direct flights between Melbourne and Colombo is a fillip for strengthening links between the two countries.

“We hope to see further air links set up soon and with improvements in key infrastructure assets in Sri Lanka, such as the Colombo port and airports. Businesses between the two countries will be deepened,” Holly said.

Tea and textiles continue to dominate Sri Lanka’s exports to Australia while imports include vegetables, dairy and wheat.

“Our services particularly education and tourism have great potential for sustainable growth. Sri Lanka is in the map for Australian tourists with 110,000 travelling to Sri Lanka in 2018, the fifth largest source of tourists,” the High Commissioner said.

Sri Lanka has been a preferred destination for Australian travellers and since 2014, the number of visitors from Australia has grown by 10.7 percent. However, bilateral investment between the two countries has been low despite Australian interest in investing in education, premium food, beverage, dairy and port development.

Australian universities and educational institutions have collaborations for part and full time courses for Sri Lankan students. Eight higher education institutions provide full programs, while four others are looking for partners to provide education. The Australian High Commissioner while commending Sri Lana for its recent achievement in the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) index, said there is lot more for Sri Lanka to do to boost the indices and competitiveness.

“Australia extends its support to Sri Lanka through investments in improving the EODB and tourism to help lift low income earners particularly in the North from poverty,” he said.