The 18th SRI LANKA – RUSSIA BUSINESS COUNCIL Annual General Meeting 2021 was held on 23rd September 2021 at 4.00 pm via Microsoft Teams. Mr. Alexey Budanov, Charge d ’affairs from the Russian Embassy of Russian Federation grace the occasion as the chief guest.
While congratulating the new appointed SLRBC Executive Committee Mr. Badanov said “Allow me to express my appreciation for providing me an opportunity to address you at this Annual General meeting today. For almost 20 years the Council has been at the forefront of promoting the trade and economic relations between Russia and Sri Lanka.
The coronavirus pandemic has seriously impacted many aspects of our bilateral relations. Despite this we managed to maintain a positive trend in bilateral trade. In accordance with Russian statistics in 2020 our turnover recorded an increase of 25,4%, amounting to almost $500 million.
Our country traditionally continues to be one of the largest consumers of Ceylon tea, firmly remaining in the top three countries of its purchasers. The import from Sri Lanka also comprises spices, apparel and rubber. We were happy to know that recently first consignments of dehydrated fruits have been delivered to Russia.
One of the major areas of our bilateral cooperation is tourism. The pandemic has seriously limited tourist exchanges, as well as people to people contacts. We noticed that Sri Lanka is making efforts to increase tourists’ flow from Russia in order to revive tourism sector in your country.
In an effort to restart the tourist exchange the Russian Government had decided to resume flights with Sri Lanka from April 1. Srilankan Airlines started direct flights to Moscow from July 30 and Aeroflot has announced its plans to resume its flights to Colombo from November. We hope that by the beginning of the high season in Sri Lanka passenger flows will further increase.
Direct flights create opportunities for Sri Lankan business to diversify exports to Russia, for example by supplying short-lived commodities, including the much-needed in Russia fish and seafood products.
New areas of cooperation between our countries are also emerging. One such example is the collaboration in the field of the peaceful use of the atomic energy. Recently the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board discussed with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) the possibility of constructing a Medical Cyclotron Facility in Sri Lanka. Russia has vast experience in this sphere with similar Russian facilities installed in Finland, Hungary, Serbia, Egypt and Thailand.
The energy consumption in Sri Lanka has been constantly increasing which generates a growing demand for importing oil, gas and coal. Russian companies have long expressed their interest in supplying energy resources to Sri Lanka and continue to seek opportunities to establish partnerships with relevant local companies.
COVID-19 affected the traditional ways of managing the economy and conducting business in each and every country, marking a major shift towards digitalization. The Sri Lankan government has recently announced it plans to make Sri Lanka digitally inclusive. This requires not only setting up digital infrastructure but efforts to protect the economy and the activities of state and private companies in cyber space as well. To this end Russia has capabilities to provide assistance to Sri Lankan businesses. Several Russian companies have long remained among world leaders in this field.
These issues I have mentioned and prospects for further bilateral cooperation, including in the sphere of economy and trade, will be discussed during the 3rd meeting of the Russian-Sri Lankan Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation which is planned to be held at the end of this year in Moscow. In June the Co-chairs have already held a video conference meeting and reviewed the current aspects of the development of the bilateral economic partnership between Russia and Sri Lanka.
I would also like to attract your attention to the upcoming international forum Russian Energy Week which will start in Moscow on October 13. The participation of Sri Lankan businessmen and companies could further intensify the trade and economic relations between Russia and Sri Lanka and open new prospects for collaboration.
I wish all the members of the Sri Lanka – Russia Business Council good health and success in their business activities. I am confident that the Russian-Sri Lankan bilateral economic contacts and mutually beneficial trade cooperation will continue to develop for the benefit of our peoples”.
- Location Russia