ASTANA – Sri Lanka and Singapore signed on to participate in EXPO 2017 in Astana during EXPO Commissioner Rapil Zhoshybayev’s Aug. 12 – 15 visit to South Asia.
Zhoshybayev met with Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka Rishad Bathiudeen, National Commissioner of the Sri Lanka expo section and Chairman of Huejay International Corporation Hubert Jayakody and members of the business circles of the country.
“Astana EXPO 2017 is a valuable opportunity for both countries to commence new trade, which is at present at a very low level – $5 million,” Bathiudeen said.
The sides exchanged views on prospects for bilateral cooperation and discussed the terms of participation of the island state in the exposition and the location of their pavilion. Zhoshybayev stressed that Sri Lanka’s participation in EXPO 2017 is a significant step forward in the development of its relationship with Kazakhstan.
According to Jayakody, Sri Lanka’s total energy capacity today is 3.9 GW, 11 percent of which (448 MW) is generated from renewable energy sources using small hydro and wind power stations. By 2030, Sri Lanka plans to meet all its energy needs from renewable sources.
In Singapore, Zhoshybayev met Wong Toon Joon, the national commissioner responsible for Singapore’s participation in EXPO 2017 and the second director of the Emerging Markets Division of Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. He also met President of the National Association of Travel Agents of Singapore Devinder Ohri.
The sides discussed bilateral cooperation in trade, investment and science and technology, including green technologies and the broad participation of Singaporean companies in the expo. Singapore will set up a national pavilion at EXPO 2017 to show Singapore’s experiences in the future energy sector and innovative approaches to sustainable development, city planning and urban governance.
Wong commented on Singapore’s work on developing its green energy sector and reported $3.4 billion has been allocated from the country’s budget for this purpose so far. The sector is currently supporting 18,000 jobs. EXPO 2017 will facilitate the flow of technology, strengthen the scientific base and improve the image of Kazakhstan internationally, he said.
With Ohri, Zhoshybayev discussed possibilities for attracting tourists from Singapore to the upcoming event and ways for tour operators from the two countries to cooperate to sell tour packages and tickets to the exhibition. Ohri emphasised that the expo in Astana provides a real opportunity for Singaporeans to visit Kazakhstan and increase the tourist flow.
While in Singapore, Zhoshybayev took part in the annual NATAS International Tourism Exhibition Travel Fair and visited Kazakhstan’s pavilion, “Kazakhstan: Land of the Great Steppe,” organised by the Kazakh Embassy in Singapore and national airline Air Astana.
Economic relations between Singapore and Kazakhstan have increased steadily over the years since 2007. In 2015, total bilateral trade amounted to $89.5 million, making Kazakhstan Singapore’s top trading partner in Central Asia.