The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, with a view to build a dependable, pragmatic, and advantageous relationship and to establish friendly and cordial relations between Sri Lanka and Kurdistan Region of Iraq, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. This was done with the intention to further enhance trade, investment, and tourism between Sri Lanka and Iraq, on 27th January 2020 at the Sri Lanka – Kurdistan Business Forum, organized by the Chamber. Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilake, Chief Executive Officer of the Ceylon Chamber signed the MOU with Mr. Seerwan Mohammed Mahmood, Deputy President of the Kurdish Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Mrs. Wijayatilake invited those who attended the Business Forum to make use of the MOU signed between the two Chambers to develop business between the two countries and thanked Retd. Major General Niranjan Ranasinghe, Former Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Iraq for inviting the delegation to visit Sri Lanka.

The scope of the MOU would be to disseminate trade and investment related information to enhance bilateral trade and business, initiate/promote joint ventures, partnerships and other business linkages, provide technical expertise, arrange business promotion missions between the two countries, formulate proposals to accelerate bilateral relations, and convene Business Forums and Business Matchmaking Sessions.  

Dr. Ahmed  Mustefa, Honorary Consul General for  Sri Lanka in Erbil,  Iraq, led the high-powered 17 member business delegation from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The business leaders visited Sri Lanka to explore business opportunities, mainly to import tea and food products from Sri Lanka to Kurdistan, and to explore investment opportunities. Addressing the gathering, Dr. Mustefa stated that they are willing to increase the quantum of tea to be imported to Kurdistan and invited the participants to visit Kurdistan to exchange experiences between the two countries.

The Kurdistan region is an emerging market with an abundance of oil and gas resources, and the region develops them through production-sharing contracts with many international companies in the United Kingdom and Germany, among others. Sri Lanka’s exports to Iraq have grown since 2015 from US $ 98 million to US $ 145 million in 2018. Imports from Iraq have grown marginally over the last couple of years. Main item exported from Sri Lanka is Tea amounting to US$ 138 million in 2018 accounting for 95% of total exports to Iraq. Main item imported to Sri Lanka is Mineral Fuels amounting to US$ 2.1 million accounting for 74% of total imports from Iraq to Sri Lanka. At present the trade balance is in favour of Sri Lanka.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, have already signed 129 Memoranda of Understanding to expand and further strengthen strong relationships with overseas trade promotion organisations for the benefit of business community in Sri Lanka.