In the Gulf region, the UAE is the largest export market for Sri Lanka, the largest source of imports to Sri Lanka, and the largest investor in Sri Lanka. The UAE is also home for a large number of Sri Lankan expatriate workers among Gulf countries. The number of tourists from the UAE visiting Sri Lanka is also on the increase and the UAE has become the largest tourist supplier among the Gulf countries to Sri Lanka in 2011.
Trade with Sri Lanka
|Year||Export from Sri Lanka to UAE (US$ Mn)||Import from UAE to Sri Lanka (US$ Mn)||Total Trade (US$ Mn)|
Sri Lanka has been trading with the UAE for a considerable period of time and it continues to remain one of Sri Lanka's major trading partners ranking 7th position of top export market to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka exported US$ 246 Mn worth of goods to UAE in 2010. The total trade between the two countries was at US$ 570 Mn in 2010, an increase of US$ 65 Mn compared to the figures registered in 2009. However, the balance of trade has been in favour of the UAE. Interesting to note that the two way trade jumped to US$ 807 Mn during January – September 2011, pushed up by rice and petroleum imports which accounted for over one third or USD 267 million of imports from UAE.
Tea, natural rubber, coconut oil, desiccated coconut, copra, cashew nuts, essential oil, fruits and vegetables, processed food, sea food, rubber products and toys are the major export commodities from Sri Lanka to the UAE. However, tea has been the major export commodity (accounting 60%) of Sri Lanka to the UAE.
Among the items imported from the UAE, crude oil, diesel, gas oil and lubricants are the major import commodities accounting for 24% of total imports. Other items include urea, lentils, iron & steel and machinery & parts.
UAE has been ranked as the third largest investor in Sri Lanka in 2010. The total investment from UAE is valued at US$ 66 Mn, which is 12% of the total FDI of Sri Lanka in 2010. There are about 15 joint ventures in Sri Lanka with the UAE investment.
The UAE based Galadari Group which has the large hotel project in Sri Lanka, is currently looking at two tourism projects in Kalpitiya islands. The Emirates group is also looking at a US$ 1 billion hotel project in Sri Lanka. Al Futtaim Group invested in AMW company by purchasing 71% of its shares. The Etisalat acquired 100% stake in 'TIGO Sri Lanka' for US$ 207 million in the telecom sector. The Heraymila Group invested in the Colombo Stock Market and formed a stock broking company. Al Ghurair Foods owns a stake in Serendib Flour Mills. The Al Ghazi Group is exploring new sectors for investments such as tractors, and Arab Orient Insurance.
Growing Sri Lanka's tourism market in the UAE has been encouraging and initiatives have already been taken to give publicity on Sri Lanka's tourist attractions as the UAE holiday makers are now interested to visit Sri Lanka after the dawn of peace in the country. The tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka from this region in 2011 was increased considerably. The tourist arrivals from the UAE amounted to 9,825 in 2010. For January to September 2011 figures shows that the UAE acquiring the top position among Gulf nations registering 12,540 arrivals compared to 11,265 arrivals from Saudi Arabia. With the good air connectivity Sri Lanka has with the UAE via Emirates, Etihad, SriLankan Airlines, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai and Mihin Air, there is a good opening for Sri Lanka to attract more tourists from the UAE. On the other hand, the UAE is also gradually becoming an important holiday destination for upper middle class Sri Lankans and there is an increase in tourist flows from Sri Lanka to the UAE.
A longstanding excellent relations and friendship between the two countries being further strengthened by the visit of Her Highness Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Quasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade of UAE who led the high powered delegation to Sri Lanka in 2011 on the invitation of her Sri Lankan counterpart Hon. Rishad Bathiuddeen, Minister of Industries and Commerce.
Sri Lanka – New Emerging Trading Hub
In the recent past, Sri Lanka was able to sustain its economic growth and enhance its export opportunities in the global market as a result of political stability and long lasting peace in the country after devastating terrorism was defeated in 2009. Sri Lanka has now been steering on right direction to achieve the accelerated social and economic development.
Sri Lanka is now on the threshold of reaping its peace dividends. In 2011, earnings from export increased significantly and the tourist arrivals recorded more than 850,000 which was the record number for any years in the Sri Lanka,s tourism history. Foreign direct investment into the country has been increasing tremendously. Small and medium scale industries, international hotel chains and other commercial ventures are keen to invest across Sri Lanka.
In order to reach the benefit of these opportunities Sri Lanka aims to become "Wonder of Asia" by 2016. To reach this milestone, Sri Lanka targets to achieve 8% growth of GDP per annum, 10 export sectors to contribute more than 1 billion US $ to the export revenue, 02 international airports and 05 sea ports in the country, tourism arrivals to reach 2.5 million per year etc. are among other significant targets and the developments.
Sri Lanka will be organizing the Mega Trade Event, "Expo 2012" from 28-30th March 2012 in Colombo. The major objective of "Expo 2012" is to promote Sri Lanka's trade, investment and tourism and to reposition Sri Lanka as a lucrative business, investments and tourism destination in Asia. 300 Sri Lankan exhibitors will display their products and services and 1000 foreign trade buyers are expected to visit Expo 2012.
Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Dubai has been working with trade promotional organizations in Dubai to send a number of visitors / buyers from the UAE. I encourage the entrepreneurs, importers and multinational companies based in the UAE to visit "Expo 2012" and take the advantage of trading opportunities with emerging new market in South Asia. Please visit www.srilankaexpo.com for more information.
Sri Lankan entrepreneurs are also looking forward to venture into the UAE market in general and the Gulf regional market in particular by way of enhancing their trade ties with UAE counterparts. Sri Lankan companies will be participating in the forthcoming Gulf Food exhibition, Arabian Travel Market exhibition and other major trade events in this region in 2012.
The Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Dubai will focus on more trade, economic and tourism expansion between the two countries while closely working with UAE authorities and trade promotional organizations in Dubai.
M M Abdul Raheem
Consulate General of Sri Lanka
Dubai & Northern Emirates