Special Forum Witnesses Key Discussions on Enhancing Bilateral Trade
COYLE, the Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs, during a Special Forum in July 2023, brought together prominent figures and stakeholders to discuss ways to strengthen trade relations between Sri Lanka and Egypt. Amongst the esteemed gathering was His Excellency Maged Mosleh, the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Sri Lanka, and His Excellency Ayman Kamel, Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs. This meeting marked a pivotal moment in fostering economic cooperation between the two nations.
During the Forum, COYLE’s leadership expressed its commitment to encourage bilateral trade relations with Egypt, emphasizing the potential for mutual growth and prosperity. To this end, COYLE has now set an ambitious, yet realistic target of reaching USD 40 million in trade with Egypt by 2024, a goal that showcases the organization’s dedication to promoting robust commercial ties between the two countries.
One of the key topics of discussion was the revitalization of the export of Ceylon Tea to Egypt. In the past, Ceylon Tea held a dominant position in Egypt’s market, but over time, it faced stiff competition from players representing other countries. This combined with collective shortcomings on both sides have, unfortunately, led to Ceylon Tea losing its market-leading position in Egypt. Thus, COYLE highlighted the importance and immense potential of re-establishing Ceylon Tea’s market leadership in Egypt, and called for strategic collaborations between Sri Lanka and Egypt to accomplish this feat, a call that received warm and enthusiastic support from the Egyptian delegates.
According to the Export Development Board (EDB), Egypt stands amongst the top 50 destinations for Sri Lankan exports, with total export trade volumes amounting to USD 31.27 million in 2022. Concurrently, Sri Lanka also imported goods worth USD 13.34 million from Egypt during the same period, ranking Egypt as a significant import origin for the Island.
While acknowledging the historical trade relationship between the two nations, the Forum also addressed the recent challenges faced by Sri Lankan exporters, when trading with Egypt. For the tea industry in particular, friction in payments was a significant concern raised. Meanwhile, the gathering also acknowledged the lack of trade agreements between Sri Lanka and Egypt, whilst other tea exporting countries have capitalized on this, expanding their presence in that market. Thus, there was also a general consensus for the need to expand Sri Lanka’s trade potential with Egypt and other countries through the inking of new trade pacts and agreements.
As a result of the difficulties and friction faced when exporting to Egypt, Sri Lanka’s exports to Egypt declined by 13.41% compared to the previous year, according to the EDB, while imports from Egypt also experienced a decline of 69.44% during the same period, though this was largely driven by the recent import restrictions imposed during the great financial crisis of 2022, which are now being lifted as Sri Lanka’s economy enters into a strong rebound. Accordingly, COYLE expressed its determination to reverse this trend and promote consistent growth in bilateral trade, and this was welcomed by the Egyptian delegation, and accompanied by pledges to support this goal.
The main export products from Sri Lanka to Egypt in 2022 encompassed a diverse range of items, including Desiccated Coconut, Tea, Pneumatic & Retreated Rubber Tyres & Tubes, Knitted Fabrics, Woven Fabrics, Men’s Outerwear, Transport Equipment, Defatted Coconut, and Cartons, Boxes and Bags. These products showcase the inherent strengths of Sri Lanka’s industries and the potential for further collaboration with Egypt.
His Excellency Maged Mosleh, the Egyptian Ambassador, took the opportunity to acknowledge COYLE’s proactive approach to strengthening trade relations. He highlighted the importance of cooperative efforts and emphasized that Egypt warmly welcomes expanded trade and commercial collaborations with Sri Lanka. The Ambassador’s remarks aligned perfectly with COYLE’s mission to foster mutual growth and pave the way for enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries.
Image 1- His Excellency Maged Mosleh, the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Sri Lanka, and His Excellency Ayman Kamel, Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs addressing the audience.