More renowned for its production and exports of tea, Sri Lanka is looking to boost its partnership with Israel in hi-tech and other industries as a means of leveraging the economic growth the South Asian island has experienced recently.
"Israeli and Sri lankan businessmen have not yet come to terms with the investment potential that lies in mutual trade between the two countries," Tissa Wijeratne, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Israel told Israeli businessmen Sunday in a meeting hosted by the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce. "It is my role to try to expose the potential that lies in advancing trade relations between the two countries."
He added that Sri Lanka can also be a gateway for Israel to trade with other countries in the area, including those with which it does not have diplomatic ties such as Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
The Sri Lankan economy has grown at rate of 5 percent to 6% in recent years and its trade with Israel currently stands at $85 million per year, a figure far short of its potential, the ambassador noted.
Agricultural exchange remains the main source of business between the two, and while Sri Lanka is still the world's largest exporter of teas, Israel also has business ties with the island in diamonds and precious stones, tourism, textiles and hi-tech.
Wijeratne added that Sri Lanka is looking to imitate the example set by its neighbor India to develop its technology sector and that a number of Israeli companies are already operating there in this field.
Given the growth in Sri Lankan businessmen and tourists visiting Israel, Wijeratne said he is also working to introduce direct flights between Tel Aviv and Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, in order to avoid the stop over currently required in Amman.
Wijeratne has approached tour operator Flying Carpet to operate the flights, The Jerusalem Post has learned.