Vitaly Prima was addressing the official Sri Lankan team led by Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce) at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce on 22 May. Taking part in the discussion along with Minister Bathiudeen were R D S Kumararatne (Director-General of Commerce), Sujatha Weerakoone (DG-EDB), officials of Department of Commerce & EDB as well as reps of Belarus consul in Sri Lanka.
Belarus is the world’s third largest potash power and an industry driven economy with a GDP equal to Sri Lanka. For Sri Lanka, Belarus remains a virgin market. According to the Department of Commerce, bilateral trade between both countries stood at $ 14.2 Mn in 2013 and bilateral trade volumes between Sri Lanka and Belarus more than doubled from its $ 7 Mn levels in 2010. 90% of Sri Lanka’s exports have been tea. Other export items are pneumatic tyres, articles for packing of goods and food preparations. Fertilizers (Potassium Chloride) has been the major import item from Belarus contributing to more than 95% of total imports in from Belarus in 2013. Belarus is the world’s third largest potash supplier after Canada and Brazil and one of the key dairy economies in the world well-known for its cheese. The Russia-Kazakstan-Belarus Customs Union is reportedly keen for its expansion, with new regional members.
"We understand that Belarus is a dairy leader in the world. Therefore we welcome your support to our dairy sector. Stronger powdered milk manufacturing capacity for Sri Lanka is the need of the hour and can help us to cut down on our huge annual milk powder", said Rishad BAthiudeen.
Ambassador Prima, responding to Minister Bathiudeen, said: “Being one of world’s leading dairy nations, we can support developing Sri Lanka’s dairy sector-and not only on a single aspect such as powdered milk production but in its entire value chain! We shall favorably consider your request in this regard! As per your interest we would also formulate the first Belarus Business delegation to Colombo during July.”
Both Prima and Minister Bathiudeen also explored other possible areas of bilateral cooperation. (KH/SI)