Sri Lanka seeks to boost gem trade with consulate in Madagascar

July 19, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka plans to establish a consulate in Madagascar mainly to encourage trade in gems and improve economic ties with the big island nation off the east coast of Africa.

Out of the 52 countries in the African continent, Sri Lanka has resident missions in only Egypt, South Africa and Kenya. More investments and trade could be expected from Madagascar once the mission is opened, Information Minister Anura Yapa told reporters Thursday.

The government wants to encourage Sri Lankan gem traders to import more rough stones from Madagascar for cutting and polishing and to re-export from Sri Lanka.

At present, more than 1,000 Sri Lankans are resident in Madagascar and engaged in the gem trade.

Opening a resident mission would provide more protection and safety to Sri Lankan gem traders and make trade transactions smoother, government officials said.

Sri Lanka’s imports of gem material, mainly rough stones, from Madagascar increased to 380 million rupees last year from 157 million rupees in 2001.

The total value of gem exports from Sri Lanka to Madagascar increased to 9.8 billion rupees last year, from 5.1 billion rupees in 2001.

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