Australia-Sri Lanka trade hits $1.3b mark | Sunday Observer

Australia-Sri Lanka trade hits $1.3b mark

Bryce Hutchesson.
Bryce Hutchesson.

Trade between Australia and Sri Lanka surged to A$1.3 billion in 2016-17, on the back of strong growth in trade in services, up more than 27 per cent. Growth for the year overall was more than 15 per cent, continuing the strong trend growth of 8.6 per cent over the past five years.

Australia’s High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson said, “This year’s figures reflects the steady growth in commercial engagement between our two countries. As close friends and Indian ocean neighbours, we’re now seeing the trade and investment relationship expand as Sri Lanka’s economy moves forwards and Australian companies take an increased interest in the Sri Lankan market.

“During Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to Sri Lanka in November 2017, we signed the Australia-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement.

“The Arrangement provides a practical forum for our two governments to address trade issues. Our shared aim is to open up new commercial opportunities for business. I’m pleased that inaugural talks under the Arrangement will take place in Canberra in April.

“With the recent launch of direct flights between Colombo and Melbourne, we anticipate we will see continued strong trade growth in 2017-18,” he said.

Education continues to grow as a pillar of the economic relationship, with more than 9,500 enrolments by Sri Lankan students to study in Australia and thousands more pursuing Australian-affiliated studies locally.

The rapid growth in Australian tourists visiting Sri Lanka (up almost 10 per cent for the year) saw Sri Lanka’s services exports to Australia grow by more than 36 per cent.

Merchandise trade remained steady at around $480 million, based on Sri Lanka’s traditional strengths in tea, textiles and rubber. Garments exports have grown strongly in the past year reflecting the decision by Australian retailers to source garments from Sri Lanka.

Australia’s major exports of vegetables, dairy, wheat and machinery have also performed well. There are now more high quality Australian goods appearing on Sri Lankan supermarket shelves.