Expo 2012 garners $ 66,000 worth global orders
- Deals worth $ 12.1 m under negotiation
- “An invaluable learning curve for Sri Lanka’s international trade scheme,” says Rishad
The recently-concluded Expo 2012 was a successful event, coming after a lapse of 15 years.
“Expo 2012 garnered confirmed orders to the value of US$ 66,090 and currently orders under negotiation amount to US$ 12,110,315. There were also sales leads to the value of US$ 14,830 and inquiries valued US$ 2,566,442, which would turn into business in the near future once the required follow-up is done,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen yesterday.
Minister Bathiudeen was presenting his official statement on the Sri Lanka Expo 2012 to the top level members of his Ministry. The Sri Lanka Expo 2012 was organised by the Export Development Board under his Ministry and was held in Colombo from 28-31 March.
“The Expo 2012 also provided a powerful and an invaluable learning curve to some of our local exporters, the SME sector as for the nature and outlook of an international event and global buyers and more importantly in our international trade schema. The Expo series is to be conducted every two years in future under the directive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and as a result, I am looking towards the next exhibition in early 2014, while congratulating my Ministry officials and particularly the staff of the EDB,” Minister Bathiudeen said.
Minister Bathiudeen stated: “The Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Export Development Board under the Ministry are pleased to announce that Sri Lanka Expo-2012, the mega trade, investment and tourism promotion initiative under the theme of ‘Partnering with the Hub of Asia’ concluded successfully on 31 March, achieving all the set objectives of the event. The Expo 2012 comprised of a unique combination of an international exhibition, symposium, business meetings, networking sessions, seminars, a cultural event and a fashion show.”
Visitors to Expo 2012 commented that they were exposed to a well-crafted trade fair offering innumerable opportunities for manufacturers and buyers to come together directly in more ways than one.
International participation reached 1,385, exceeding the set target of 1,000 international visitors, which included trade buyers, ministerial delegations, investors, foreign employment companies and outbound tour operators from across the world.
The event not only attracted visitors from Sri Lanka’s main markets such as USA and Europe, but even from emerging markets like Cyprus, Russia, Brazil and Turkey, to name a few. There was encouraging participation from Asia – China (346), India (210), Malaysia (144) and Japan (62). As for the interest shown on various export sectors, the largest number of trade visitors, 244, was for the diamond, gem and jewellery sector followed by 187 visitors for the apparel sector. Tea sector (162) and food and beverage sector (117) were other sectors of attraction.
Ministerial delegations from the Maldives, Korea, Palestine and Bangladesh and a representative delegation from the UAE attended the event and successful meetings were organised with visiting ministers and relevant institutions and associations.
The boost received by tourism due to 50 tour operators representing 13 countries (Korea, Jordan, Oman, China, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Philippines, Doha Qatar, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and USA ) visiting the event bodes well for the future of tourism industry in the country.
A total of 71 renowned trade and travel journalists from magazines from 27 countries (Italy, Germany, Russia, Netherlands, UK, USA, Croatia, Poland, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Palestine, Austria, Hungary, India, China, Czech Republic, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Poland, Palestine and Jordan) also took part in Sri Lanka Expo 2012.
An overwhelming response was seen from the export community. There were 372 stalls, a tantalising array of uniquely Sri Lankan exports spanning broad sectors of agriculture and fisheries, industrial products and services. All the strategic sectors identified by EDB were represented by the key players of these sectors.
These key sectors include apparel, tea, rubber and rubber based products, gems, diamonds and jewellery, food and other beverages, spices and allied products, ceramic and porcelain products, electrical electronic products and footwear and leather products, etc.
Visitors to the event had access to the best selection of Sri Lankan quality products and services under one roof. The first two days of the exhibition were reserved exclusively for buyers to negotiate business with the exhibitors and place orders to buy Sri Lankan products and services and the last two days of the exhibition were open to the general public. Over 10,000 Sri Lankans visited the event and experienced the comprehensive range of high quality products and services that Sri Lanka has to offer to the international market, while gaining exposure on various facets of an international event of this nature.
About two thirds of the participants at the event have already given their feedback to the EDB and it is yet to receive feedback from other participants. From the responses the EDB has already received, companies were able to secure confirmed orders amounting to US$ 66,090 and orders under negotiation are US$ 12,110,315, whereas there were sales leads to the value of US$ 14,830.
“Inquiries worth US$ 2,566,442 were received, which would turn into business in the near future once the required follow-ups are pursued. There was a pavilion of 52 stalls allocated specially to showcase the products from SMEs at the event to provide them the exposure needed to enter into mainstream exports. However, it is encouraging to note that the SME pavilion itself has obtained orders worth US$ 15,645, sales leads worth US$ 3830, inquiries worth US$ 42,575 and orders under negotiation amount to US$ 230,315,” said Badiudeen.
Positive comments on the exhibition were received from stakeholders. Mahesh Amalean, Chairman of MAS Holdings and one the key stakeholders of the event, said: “Expo 2012 is an extremely timely and an important event, especially at the point of time when the economy is beginning to develop as a result of a few years of peace.”
The National Craft Council said: “Sri Lanka Expo 2012 provided an ideal opportunity to our craft persons; they were able to link with foreign buyers in obtaining orders in addition to gaining first-hand knowledge and experience. Therefore, it is suggested to organise this event annually as it provides a good platform to Sri Lankan craft sector to market their products.”
The event also saw a Trade and Investment Symposium where 12 international keynote speakers delivered speeches on timely themes, covering salient topics of interest such as the advantages and facilitated process behind Sri Lanka’s conducive trade and investment climate and the country’s many facets as a tourist destination.
The symposium, which was well received by the participants, was held at Hilton, Colombo and attended by more than 350 participants from the business community. Dr. Sandro Veronesi, Chairman, Clazedonia SpA, Italy, as the largest investor in Sri Lanka shared his positive impressions on our country at this Symposium.
He stated: “Sri Lanka is a small country with good potential. We did much more in Sri Lanka than we imagined because Sri Lankan people are willing to work. So there is still an opportunity for future growth.” His concluding remark was “invest in Sri Lanka”.
Michael Delaney, Assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asia enlightened the audience on ‘Partnering with the Wonder of Asia: A view from the US,’ while Edward Clarence-Smith, UNIDO Representative, in his speech stressed the importance of following the green trends in the products manufactured for the export market.
He stated: “I had the pleasure of visiting some Sri Lankan companies in the apparel sector at Expo 2012, which have understood the message and have positioned themselves to take full advantage of the market demand for green products.”
Jean-Maries Paugam, Deputy Executive Director, ITC, Geneva, stated: “Expo 2012 illustrates the determination of the Sri Lankan Government to jumpstart and boost the economic growth and export performance of Sri Lanka.”
Mark Harris, London Stock Exchange, stated: “We are very proud of having very fast trading system which was developed and provided by Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is turning out top rated IT professionals which the country should be proud of. We will continue to invest in Sri Lanka and continue to become an active player in Sri Lanka.”
Dr. Adolf Peretti, Gemmologist, GRS Gem Research Swisslab, AG, Switzerland, in his presentation stated: “Sri Lankan sapphires have been recognised as an international gem brand at auctions worldwide. Sri Lanka’s mining practices have been found as preserving nature and ethical practices.”
Another significant event organised in parallel to Expo 2012 at the BMICH was a seminar on the ‘US GSP Scheme,’ which was attended by more than 140 participants from the business community.
Mara Burr, Deputy Assistant, US Trade Representative for South & Central Asian Affairs, the key speaker at the seminar, stated that duty free treatment was applied for 3,400 types of products from 129 developing countries, including Sri Lanka.
US imports from Sri Lanka in 2011 amounted to US$ 2 b, of which US$ 135 m was under GSP concession, which is 7% of the total imports to the US and it is envisaged that this percentage could be further increased if the export community made use of this facility in a productive way.
The cultural event performed by veteran artists Ravibandu Vidyapathy and Chandana Wickramasinghe at Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre depicted the multicultural talents of Sri Lanka. Some foreign visitors appeared enchanted by the performance, experiencing Sri Lankan culture and hospitality.
The glamorous fashion show staged at the BMICH showcased the best of Sri Lanka’s apparel and craft capabilities to the international audience. The show began with Sri Lanka’s globally-renowned apparel industry on the ramp showcased Sri Lanka apparel’s creativity and cutting-edge technology as MAS, Brandix, Hirdaramani and other manufacturers spurred Expo 2012.
Sri Lanka’s rich craft sector came alive on the ramp representing talents of many communities in Sri Lanka which showcased our culture and aesthetics to the global audience.
An MOU to promote trade between Korea and Sri Lanka was signed between the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Korea Importers Association on 28 March, while a MOU between the South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) was signed in the presence of Badiudeen to further strengthen trade and investment.
Jeong Marn Ki, Deputy Minister for Planning and Coordination, Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Korea, stated at one of the ministerial meetings that “we should step further and have a bilateral agreement between the two countries in order to facilitate trade”.
The All India Rubber Association was interested in investment opportunities and joint ventures in Sri Lanka. At the meeting held with the Minister of Investment and Trade, the association requested the provision of facilities such as land in order for them to proceed.
“I must say that I was very impressed by the EDB’s arrangements and I say this based on the fact that I do at least 10 of these projects. It was the best media centre I’ve used in several years,” Kelvin King of Soft drinks International said. “In general this second Expo is well organised especially for journalists,” said Gehard H. Breuer of International Fruit world.
“I thought the Expo was very good and professionally managed. It deserves to generate a great deal of overseas earnings. I never had expected to meet the produce people in such numbers,” said John Sacks of Fruit World International. All the journalists assured the EDB of providing publicity through their respective magazines.
Some journalists from Croatia and the UK visited factories to obtain firsthand information and many of them visited related stalls and interviewed the companies.