The CEOs of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment, Mr. Sayed Zaman Hashemi, and the Ceylon (Sri Lankan) Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Manjula de Silva, virtually signed a historic MOU of Cooperation between the two Chambers on Monday, September 28, 2020, the Afghan Foreign Ministry in Columbo reported in a statement.
"The MOU provides for the establishment of an Afghanistan-Sri Lanka Trade Desk within both Chambers, helping implement both sides’ shared commercial goals," the statement read.
The officials pledged to work with the embassies of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in Colombo and Kabul to implement the MOU to help realize "the vast trade and investment potential that exists between the two South Asian nations."
M. Ashraf Haidari, Afghan ambassador to Sri Lanka, witnessed the signing ceremony and remarked:
“I am delighted to witness the fruition of our shared hard efforts over the past year to sign this historic MOU between our two Chambers of Commerce, which I have no doubt will work together, in partnership with our two embassies here and in Kabul, to foster and deepen commercial ties between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.”
Haidari also acknowledged the "strong support from the leaderships of both countries for the further expansion of bilateral relations, especially full-spectrum connectivity for trade and investment, thereby forging long-lasting people-to-people ties between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka."
The MOU seeks to enable the two chambers of commerce to “disseminate all such information as may be relevant to enhance bilateral trade and business; initiate and promote joint ventures, partnerships and other business linkages; provide technical expertise; arrange visits between the two countries; formulate proposals to accelerate bilateral relations; and convene meetings, conferences, and discussions.”
Both sides agreed to "hold regular webinars, including major investors, to exchange business ideas and to discuss the specifics of investment opportunities in agribusiness (tea, saffron, coconut oil, fresh fruits and dried nuts), services (skilled and unskilled labor), logistics, textiles (garments, rugs and carpets), gemstones (precious and semi-precious stones), tourism, medical tourism, higher education tourism, as well as other sectors of mutual investment interest," the statement said.
Ambassador Haidari also mentioned the "Air Services Agreement and Trade and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement," which is to be signed between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to "further enhance and facilitate bilateral trade." Haidari said that once this is completed the two countries "could initiate to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to remove all barriers to easy and profitable trade and investment between the two friendly countries, with growing ties in all areas of bilateral cooperation."