Iraq, the top Middle Eastern buyer of Ceylon Tea, has thrown its state controlled market doors wide-open to Sri Lanka for the first time agreeing for import of Ceylon Tea to the country directly and also removed its import ban on Sri Lankan coco peat with immediate effect on 25 February.
“The two-day-long trade talks, held in Baghdad were a great success! It also resulted in Iraq lifting ban on our coco peat, opening their markets wider for Pure Ceylon Tea and 13 new Sri Lankan exports,” said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka .
Minister Bathiudeen was discussing the success of the eighth session of Sri Lanka Iraq Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation (JEC) with some of his delegation members on 25 February in Baghdad. The eighth session of trade talks was held at International Palestine Hotel, Baghdad. Minister Bathiudeen was leading the 16 member strong Lankan delegation to Iraq for the eighth JEC.
On its part, displaying an unprecedented interest, the Government of Iraq was fielding an official team of more than 30 members that consisted reps from such key Iraqi Ministries as Trade, Economic Relations, Transportation, and Industry and Minerals. Iraqi team at the Baghdad JEC session was led by Minister of Trade, Kheer-allah Hassan babaker Muhammad.
According to the Department of Commerce Sri Lanka, the value of total trade between the two countries that stood at $ 8.72 Mn in 2003 topped $ 89.99 Mn in 2013. Sri Lanka exported goods totalling $ 89.80 Mn to Iraq and imported only goods of $ 0.19 Mn from Iraq during 2013.
The Iraqi side has also agreed to facilitate direct tea imports from Sri Lanka and requested to encourage Sri Lankan suppliers to establish direct links with the tea buyers in the Iraqi market.