Sri Lanka has agreed to partner with one of the largest export exhibitions in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) region on 12 August. As a result, almost five million visitors attending the largest global export exhibition in the EEU region will be sampling the Lankan export portfolio for a three-month-long period in Astana.
“Astana Expo 2017 is a valuable opportunity for both countries to commence new trade which is at present at a very low $ 5 million” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, addressing Commissioner of International Specialised Exhibition Expo 2017, Rapil Zhoshybayev, who was meeting him along with New Delhi-based Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Sri Lanka Bulat Sarsenbayev on 12 August at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The duo was meeting Bathiudeen who was witnessing the signing of the agreement between Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan for Sri Lanka’s participation at forthcoming Expo 2017 in Astana. The signatories of the agreement were the Commissioner of International Specialised Exhibition Expo 2017 Rapil Zhoshybayev (for Kazakhstan) and Hubert Jayakody (Chairman of Huejay International – signatory for Sri Lanka and the official organiser of Lankan delegations).
“The forthcoming Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan will be a great opening for Lankan products,” said Commissioner Zhoshybayev, addressing Bathiudeen and added: “Kazak Expo 2017 will be taking place from 10 June to 10 September. Some Heads of States also will participate in this. We expect about five million visitors from Kazakhstan and abroad in the three month period of the expo. We are building an airport, separate city and a railway station for this Expo specially. With $ 300 m, we build an expo village to be later converted to an international financial centre. There will be a special focus on energy. The Minister of Energy of Kazakhstan will conduct a Ministerial Conference for all the participating countries. We believe that Sri Lankan delegations will win prizes at the Expo. Only a couple days ago that a Sri Lankan delegation was received back in Kazakhstan. Expo-2017 will be an opportunity for Sri Lanka to bilaterally meet other, usually difficult to meet trading partners as well. I am sure that this is a great opportunity to renew our trade relations.”
According to the Department of Commerce, in 2015 Lanka-Kazak bilateral trade stood at a very nominal $ 4.8 m.
Minister Bathiudeen welcomed the invitation and expressed his intentions to expand trade with Kazakhstan. “Kazakhstan is a virgin market for keen Lankan exporters. Tea is the only major Lankan export item to Kazakhstan. Therefore it is time to renew trade. More importantly, Sri Lankan exporters can access the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of which Kazakhstan is a member. The Ministry is looking forward to support a strong Lankan delegations to Astana Expo 2017 and shall extend our best possible cooperation for this.”
The 182-million EEU market was launched in 2015 with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia as member states and aims to be an “international organisation for economic integration”.
Minister Bathiudeen, Commissioner Zhoshybayev and Kazak Ambassador to Sri Lanka Sarsenbayev also discussed other forms of social cooperation between both countries at the 12 August meeting.
At present, Sri Lanka imports only one product from Kazakhstan, asbestos.