United Arab Emirates (UAE) is keen on being a key player in the development of Sri Lanka, the UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said.
The UAE minister Shaikh Abdullah at the opening of the two-day UAE-Sri Lanka Joint Ministerial Committee on Saturday in Abu Dhabi said Sri Lanka is a strategic partner for the UAE and the historic and strong relations between the two countries helped enhance cooperation in all fields.
The joint meeting, aimed at exploring new avenues for joint cooperation in areas of economy, trade, investment, tourism, energy and oil and gas, concluded today with the initiative to further strengthen the trade and investment in both countries.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris led the Sri Lankan delegation while the UAE delegation was headed by his counterpart Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Prof. Peiris thanked the UAE for hosting the joint committee meeting, which was set up as part of both countries' framework to strengthen bilateral relations, the Gulf News reported.
The bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$1.5 billion in 2012, while UAE investments in Sri Lanka amounted to US$ 440 million. The UAE also service 47 weekly flights between the two countries.
Shaikh Abdullah said that while Sri Lanka aims to increase foreign investments in the future the committee will discuss investment opportunities available in the UAE and ways to boost the investments of Sri Lankan companies operating in the country.
He added that the committee also needs to work on encouraging Emirati companies to enter the Sri Lankan market.
Opening the first session of the two-day meeting Saturday, the UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Khaled Ganem Al Gaith emphasized on the importance of implementing recommendations issued by the committee in order to boost bilateral relations.
Trade exchange between the two countries stood at $1.5 billion in 2012. UAE investment in Sri Lanka is estimated at $440 million. There are 47 weekly flights linking the two countries.
The Deputy Sri Lankan Minister of Investment Promotion Faizer Mustafa co-chaired the session with the UAE Minister.
Speaking at the meeting, Al Gaith said the meetings of the committee would open up new windows for further strengthening bilateral relations in consistence with aspirations of higher Emirati-Sri Lankan leaderships for realizing mutual objectives and interests.