Oct 25 (KT) COLOMBOŚ The UAE, the largest foreign direct investor in Sri Lanka among the GCC economies, is mulling over several large-scale investments in the country.
"Sri Lanka's security and stability is attractive for UAE private investors. We are keen to expand our investment profile in Sri Lanka beyond current levels," revealed the newly appointed UAE ambassador to Sri Lanka, Abdul Hamid Abdul Fattah K. Al Mulla.
The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $1.1 billion at end of 2011, a fact, which Al Mulla suggested showed potential future growth.
Since the end of a three decade conflict against the Tamil Tiger terrorist group in 2009, the UAE has invested in several large scale projects in the island.
In November last year Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, led a high powered delegation to Colombo where both countries successfully concluded the first Sri Lanka-UAE Business Forum.
According to the Ministry of Tourism 58 flights originate from Dubai to Colombo per week by UAE based carriers - Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Emirates and Etihad.
"This growing traffic is also a sign of tremendous tourism attraction of Sri Lanka at UAE's end, the reason why investments in this sector has become a priority for us," said Al Mullah. The UAE ambassador to Sri Lanka also expressed the country's enthusiasm in concluding a Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPA) with Sri Lanka.
The two countries also share a bilateral Double Tax Avoidance Agreement. Sri Lanka also has bilateral Double Tax Avoidance Agreements with 38 countries including the United States, Iran and Qatar.
For Sri Lanka, the UAE is the second largest trade partner in the Middle East after Iran.
By the end of last year 22 UAE firms had actively invested $ 448.6 million in Sri Lanka of which $ 16.5 million consisted of Sri Lankan equity.
In 2010, the UAE, the largest Foreign Direct Investor in Sri Lanka among GCC economies, invested US$ 66 million in Sri Lanka. According to the Department of Commerce last year the bilateral trade between the two countries hit record high with $ 1.1 billion. Sri Lanka is the biggest exporter of tea to the UAE. The country also exports apparels, food commodities, coconuts, diamonds and tyres.