Iran invited Sri Lanka to take part in trade shows in the country in a bid to ramp up trade and exports and boost exchanges between the two countries.The invitation was extended during a meeting between Iranian Ambassador Mahmoud Rahimi Gorji and Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo last week. "As part of strengthening Sri Lanka-Iran trade cooperation, I invite direct participation of Sri Lankan businesses for the forthcoming trade shows scheduled across Iran," Gorji said during the meeting. The Minister said the main concern of Sri Lankan exporters is the lack of direct access to Iranian markets, and invited Iran to send a high level business delegation to the 'Sri Lanka Expo 2012' to be held in March 2012. The two sides also "identified that direct business to business contacts on a mutual basis and market access on both sides could be improved 'vastly' from that of current levels, as trade between both countries stood at US $ 808.63 million in 2010", according to a statement from the Ministry. According to the Commerce Department of Sri Lanka, trade between Sri Lanka and Iran has continued to show a positive trend since 2001 despite the balance of trade between two countries being heavily and continuously in favor of Iran over the years (mainly owing to Iran's oil exports to Sri Lanka).