State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake paid an official visit to Jordan from 9 to 11 May 2018. During the visit State Minister Senanayake met with officials of Amman Chamber of Commerce and held discussions on bilateral trade issues.
He encouraged the Jordanian authorities to explore the possibility of making value added tea catering to various localized palates using bulk tea imports from Sri Lanka. Currently, tea imported from Sri Lanka to Jordan is re-exported to neighboring Syria, Iraq and Palestine. Further, the Amman Chamber of Commerce officials agreed to take up the issue of restrictions placed on fruit imports from Sri Lanka with the Jordan Ministry of Agriculture. The Amman Chamber of Commerce also agreed to send a delegation comprising high-level business leaders to the Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2018 scheduled to be held from 19th to 21st June 2018 in Colombo.
During a meeting with Jordanian tourism authorities the two sides discussed about overcoming challenges such as non availability of directFLIGHTS and visa restrictions. State Minister pointed out that resuming direct Royal Jordan Flights to Colombo which were discontinued a few years ago would serve a large number of South Asian tourists in addition to Sri Lankans and Jordanian nationals. The Jordanian Tourist Board authorities proposed religious tourism for Sri Lankans of Christian and Islamic faiths. In this regard, it was stated that visa procedure should be simplified for Sri Lankans to visit Jordan. The Director General of the Jordan Tourist Board agreed to take up this issue with the relevant Jordanian Authorities.
Another important focus of State Minister Senanayake’s visit was expanding job opportunities to Sri Lankans in Jordan. Currently 12,000 Sri Lankans are working in Jordan with the majority employed as factory workers. At an interactive forum with proprietors, CEOs and human resource managers of factories recruiting Sri Lankan migrant workers, State Minister encouraged recruiting more skilled and semi skilled workers from Sri Lanka. He also stressed the importance of providing proper welfare and fair remuneration packages to workers. The Jordanian business owners and managers appreciated the opportunity to interact directly with the State Minister and requested for the streamlining of the current recruitment process in place for Sri Lankans so that Sri Lanka can compete with other labour supplying nations.