The First Session of the Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Turkey was successfully concluded on 11.11.2016 in Ankara, Turkey. The two countries heldwide ranging discussions at a bilateral forum of this kind after a hiatus of 26 years.
The Agreement between Sri Lanka and Turkey was signed on 26th August 1988 in Izmir, Turkey which proposed to establish a Joint Committee on Trade. Accordingly, the First Session of the Joint Committee on Trade was held in 1990 in Colombo during which the two sides emphasised that strengthening and deepening long term economic relations could be achieved through the expansion and diversification of economic and technical cooperation. In this regard, the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Turkey was signed on 26th August 2002 proposing to establish a “Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation" ( JECTC). However, due to various reasons the Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation wasn’t able to convene until now.
Hon. RishadBathuideen , the Minister of Industry and Commerce led the Sri Lankan delegation as the Co-chair of the Joint Committee while Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Trade acted as the head of the technical delegation during negotiations. Senior officials of the Ministry of Megapolis, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of Commerce, Department of Customs, Sri Lanka Tea Board and Export Development Board comprised the other members of the delegation.
The coordinated efforts of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Ankara, Department of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs were behind the success of the Joint Committee concluded.
During the deliberations, both sides agreed to cooperate in various sectors with the hope of elevating the existing relations to greater heights. At the Joint Committee, Sri Lanka and Turkey together emphasized the need to further increase and diversify the composition of bilateral trade and agreed to increase the trade volume between the two countries to US$500 million by 2020.
In order to increase the two-way trade, it was highlighted that the early conclusion of the proposed Bilateral Instruments on Prevention of Double Taxation,Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of InvestmentsandCooperation &Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters, is imperative. The Turkish side agreed to fast-track its clearance of the draft texts submitted from the Sri Lankan side onPromotion of Protection of Investments and Customs Matters while the two sides pledged to hold shortly, the first round of negotiations to finalize the draft text of the Agreement on Prevention of Double Taxation.
Sri Lanka and turkey extensively discussed and explored the possibilities of economic and technical cooperation in the sectors such as Investment, Contracting and Technical Consultancy Services,Industrial Cooperation,Technical Assistance for Development, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, Transportation, Standardization and Metrology,Culture and Tourism,Environment and Urbanization,Forestry and WatershedManagement, Energy, Healthcare, Agriculture and Fishery, Tea andEducation.
Also, in consideration of the potential that exist for furthering the trade between the both countries, Sri Lanka proposed to enter into a Preferential Trade Agreement with Turkey.
Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) of Turkey organized a working lunch in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy of Turkey and with the assistance of the Turkish Contractors Association where the officers of the Ministry of Megapolis of Sri Lanka conduct a presentation on the “Investment Opportunities Available Under the Western RegionMegapolis Initiative”which was followed by a Q&A session.
During the bilateral talks between Hon. Bathuideen and H.E Ismet Yilmaz Minister of National Education of Turkey and the Co-chair of the Joint Committee; Hon. Bathuideen expressed his appreciation on the assistance extended by the Turkish Government to Sri Lanka and reiterated the solidarity expressed by H.E the President and Hon. Prime Minister during the calamities Turkey has recently faced.
On Saturday the 12th November 2016, the Hon. Minister paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister of Turkey in Istanbul.
Hon. Minister also met with the Vice President of the Turkish International Cooperation Administration (TIKA).