The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the diplomatic community consisting of commercial counsellors and honorary consuls of foreign missions to Sri Lanka for a briefing on the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016 to be held in Colombo on 12-13 October.
The meeting was led by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Harsha De Silva, State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe and Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) Chairperson and Chief Executive Indira Malwatte.
Welcoming close to 50 delegates representing 39 countries, Deputy Minister De Silva commenced the briefing with the assurance of complete support by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver a rewarding and favourable international forum.
“We are working hand-in-glove with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade to make this event an absolute success,” Deputy Minister De Silva commented. “This conference comes at a very crucial time for Sri Lanka as we face bigger international challenges in trade. I am here to assure you that the Ministry (of Foreign Affairs) is here to face these challenges and take the country forward towards prosperity.”
The global conference, also the flagship event of the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC), expects to bring in 350 international delegates and close to 300 local business leaders and entrepreneurs for the two-day event.
Malwatte emphasised on the significance of the event asa platform dedicated to expediting business opportunities and partnerships with dedicated business-to-business (B2B) meetings.
“As of now, there are 72 companies registered for the B2B meetings, with their profiles readily available online (at www.wedf.edb.gov.lk),” said Malwatte. “While participants explore new business opportunities in Sri Lanka, we have also complemented the event with field visits, tours, and other programmes to show the world what Sri Lanka as a regional business hub has to offer.”
The B2B meetings between high potential buyers/ sellers will be facilitated at the event, catering to sectors such as tourism, information and communication technology (ICT), apparel and most importantly manufacturing, with the country currently heavily focused on investment in manufacturing for export.
“Sri Lanka is now well on its way to become an investment-friendly country,” added Senasinghe, who is championing the Sri Lankan edition of WEDF. “The whole world is looking at us today, and by hosting a global conference such as WEDF, we show them our potential. It is just the start for us.”
WEDF 2016 has also attracted some high calibre international speakers to share their expertise at the forum, including Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat Patricia Scotland, Executive Director of the ITC Arancha González, CEO of Central Eastern Europe and Middle East for DHL Stefano Arganese, Head of Customs and Trade Facilitation Policy at the International Chamber of Commerce Donia Hammami and many more.
The local business community is also represented by visionary powerhouses such as Deshamanya Mahesh Amalean – Co-Founder and Chairman of apparel giant MAS Holdings, Ruwindhu Peiris – Head of start-up Sri Lanka, also driving the ‘1000 start-ups’ program, Dulith Herath – Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Sri Lanka’s largest e-commerce organisation Kapruka, and other likeminded industry leaders.
WEDF 2016, themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, will focus on current issues shaping business competitiveness, new markets and trade success. The forum has also brought Sri Lanka’s public sector and Government together with the private sector and the Board of Investment (BOI) in one great effort to ensure the success and continued interest and investment in trade relationships.
“We are creating awareness of a new Sri Lanka,” Senasinghe concluded. “And this is the perfect platform to take this message to the rest of the world.”
The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) is the premier State organisation responsible for the development and promotion of exports. It plays a catalytic role in shaping of national economic agenda by being a policy advisor to the government for creation of conducive business environment. It interacts with the private sector by implementing programs for product and market development and promoting Sri Lanka export basket of products and services.
It is the prime facilitator being the focal point for export development and provider of market intelligence to the business community. EDB has achieved the recognition and commendation as a friendly business partner from the private sector.