Qatar’s growing economy and population are providing farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the South Asian country access to a wider market in the Gulf region, Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen has said.
“There is a huge demand for Sri Lankan exports to Qatar, as well as even from a labour point of view because the economy here is expanding, so our exports, especially in the agriculture sector, will continue to grow,” Mohideen told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently launched ‘Taste of Sri Lanka’ festival, which will run until February 11 at all LuLu Hypermarkets across Qatar.
The ambassador said Sri Lanka’s partnership with LuLu is providing Sri Lankan SMEs and farmers access to the Qatari market, which is expected to keep growing in the coming period.
He said LuLu’s warehouse in Colombo gives the hypermarket chain direct access to producers and farmers, enabling LuLu to tap into the industry and pay farmers and SMEs fair market value.
“And we've seen this business grow year-on-year; throughout the pandemic, it grew 100%, so there's every reason to believe that this business can grow multiple folds in the coming years.
“As Qatar’s economy and population grow, so does the demand, which is why there's no reason why Sri Lankan manufacturers and traders shouldn't expect business to expand across many different sectors. If you’re taking the wider economy here, I'm hoping other products and sectors like rubber and gems could come and play a big part, as well, in the coming years, he said.
According to Mohideen, Sri Lanka sees the 2022 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity for the South Asian nation to boost bilateral trade relations with Qatar. In 2021, Qatar-Sri Lanka bilateral trade stood at $90mn, he said.
In terms of food security, Mohideen said exporting Sri Lankan produce to Qatar will help stabilise the country’s food market.
“Through the pandemic, Sri Lanka and LuLu were able to work with Sri Lankan producers without any interruption. I hope in the coming years we're able to add to this business and hopefully grow it,” he said.
In LuLu, more than 350 Sri Lankan items are being sold in their hypermarkets across the country. This year, Mohideen said saris from Sri Lanka are now available in LuLu stores.
“That’s a great addition not only to the range of Sri Lankan brands in Qatar, but it also gives another manufacturing sector the opportunity to come here and, hopefully, create a new market,” he added.
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