Sri Lanka is keen to forge ties with Qatar in the energy sector besides other potential areas to develop bilateral partnerships, stated Minister of External Affairs G. L. Peiris.
“Now we have a peaceful environment and political stability. Therefore we have a very good opportunity for expanding and strengthening investment and trade relationship with Qatar,” said Professor Peiris, speaking to The Peninsula, about his bilateral meeting with the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
“We discussed several areas of cooperation in developing LNG as Qatar is the largest supplier, Sri Lanka is interested in a multipurpose storage facility to be established in Colombo, for transshipment purposes because we are developing Colombo as hub taking advantage of its geographical location,” the Minister said.
The Emir agreed to look into Sri Lanka as potential investment destination as Qatar is significantly increasing its investment in many parts of the world, says Professor Peiris.
The Emir also received a written message from President Mahinda Rajapaksa related to relations between the two countries and issues of common concern.
They have also discussed about potential collaborations for food security. For Sri Lanka to produce agricultural items for Qatar, as it will be an employment opportunity for Sri Lankans and Qatar would have a source of supply.
Opportunities for skilled employment from Sri Lanka were another area discussed during the talks.
“As Qatar prepares for 2022 World Cup, it will require a lot of skill in employment and Sri Lanka will be in a position to supply some of that. We also spoke about the expertise Sri Lanka has in the construction services sector,” said Professor Peiris.
Sri Lanka will further move into an investment agreement with Qatar beside the existing one for avoidance of double taxes for more affective business.
Minister Peiris also held discussions with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani, the Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of the Emiri Diwan H E Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs HE Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud.
A bilateral discussion was also held between the Minister of Social Affairs and Acting Minister of Labour H E Nasser bin Abdullah Al Hamidi and Prof Peiris.
“We talked about ways and means of improving relations between the two countries in respect of foreign employment. There are almost a 100,000 Sri Lankans now working in Qatar and we don’t have nay serious problems,” he said.
A proposal was also put forward for the Qatari private sector to establish vocational training centres in Sri Lanka that will provide systematic training for jobs here. Also for opportunities in the medical sector for nurses and pharmacists.
The existing significant number of Sri Lankans working in the banking service sector too has been appreciated during the bilateral talks.
Sri Lanka is seeing this meetings a strong foundation to move rapidly in the future through many bilateral agreements, stated The Peninsula.