From left: Bernhard Steinrücke, Dr Peter Kulitz, Kirsten Schoder-Steinmüller, Andreas Hergenröther, Minister Malik Samarawickrama, Dr. Martin Wansleben, Bengt Beyer, German Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jörn Rohde
In a bid to boost greater bilateral trade and investments as well as private sector engagement, the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce was ceremoniously opened in Colombo on Tuesday, 27 March.
The landmark initiative, taking German-Sri Lanka ties to a new height, is spearheaded by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) and the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs), with the support of the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
The opening marks the 140th office of AHKs in 92 countries. AHKs are officially representing German business, providing a multitude of services to facilitate trade and investments for German companies and their respective partner countries.
Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama was the Chief Guest at the opening. DIHK Chief Executive Officer Dr. Martin Wansleben, German Ambassador in Sri Lanka Jörn Rohde, and new Delegate of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka Andreas Hergenroether were also present, along with Government officials, representatives of German companies in Sri Lanka, and members of the special German delegation from overseas.
«This is certainly a step in the right direction to further improve bilateral trade and investment between our countries,» Minister Samarawickrama said at the opening. «I am confident that visit, as well as this new organisation in Sri Lanka, will forge many productive business partnerships for both our countries,» he added.
The Minister also made a point to pay special tribute to Germany, and thank the Germany government and its people for their steadfast support in ensuring Sri Lanka regained GSP+.
«We truly value the confidence placed in us. Regaining GSP+ is not about helping our government, but it is about helping our people,» Samarawickrama added.
As the Government is taking efforts to make Sri Lanka an attractive hub in this region, the Minister invited German businesses to take advantage of this and locate here.
«You can enjoy the benefit of being located in a clean and liveable city, in a strategic geographic location, and partner with Sri Lankan companies that are focussed on sustainability and corporate governance - and from here reach out to India, South Asia, East Asia, as well as Africa and the Middle East,» he told the visiting German delegation.
According to the Minister, Sri Lanka’s comparative advantage is its location, logistics, its port connectivity and efficiency, its preferential access to large markets in the region through FTAs, and a human resource pool that has high human development indicators, are highly trainable, and very nimble with their hands.
«We are very keen to attract German industries looking to do higher-end activities in Sri Lanka – especially export-oriented manufacturing that brings new technology and new practices to help upgrade our economy,» Samarawickrama emphasised.
He also pointed out that Germany has much to offer us in terms of skill and technology upgrading. In fact, Sri Lanka values the contribution made by Germany to upgrade skills in Sri Lanka – particularly the highly reputed German Tech institutes in Moratuwa, Kilinochchi and the soon-to-be set up institute in Matara.
«Young Sri Lankans who have been trained in these institutes are in high demand locally and internationally. We look forward to more German support for technical training across Sri Lanka,» Minister Samarawickrama said.
He also revealed that the Government is planning an investment forum around September or October this year and sought Germany›s assistance to make it a success.
DIHK CEO Dr. Wansleben in his remarks said the German economy is internationally intertwined like hardly any other. «Bilateral co- operation is of utmost importance especially considering the many challenges facing companies worldwide. Alone, hardly anything is possible in today›s world. There is huge growth potential for German companies in Asia,» he said adding that the dynamic market of Sri Lanka will open up even more opportunities. «With the grand opening of our office in Colombo, our network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad is growing to 140 locations in 92 countries. By doing so, we are starting an in-depth and mutually beneficial cooperation both for the German and the Sri Lankan economy,» Dr. Wansleben added.
With a yearly growth rate of about 5% and as a maritime hub between Asia, Africa and Europe, Sri Lanka offers business opportunities for both sides. While Sri Lankan exports to Germany grew by 13% in 2017, German exports grew by 81% to over 570 million Euro in 2017, reaching a total bilateral trade volume of more than 1.25 billion Euro.
Sri Lanka raises more and more interests for German sourcing in the sectors of food and textiles. German investments in the apparel industry, cement industry, industrial gas production, precision technology, and lately in the insurance sector, are underlining the country›s diversified opportunities. German foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka amounts to approximately 170 million Euro, listing
Sri Lanka number 86 in a global approach among countries and ranking 3rd as target location in South Asia, after India and Pakistan.
The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Deutscher Industrie-und Handelskammertag, DIHK) is the central organisation for 79 Chambers of Commerce and Industry, CCts (Industrie-und Handelskammern, IHKs) in Germany. All German companies registered in Germany, except for handicraft businesses, the free professions and farms, are required by law to join a chamber. The DIHK speaks for more than three million entrepreneurs.
The network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs), which consists of bilateral chambers of commerce abroad, delegations and representatives of German business, advises, consults and represents German companies worldwide that wish to develop or expand their business activities abroad. The AHKs are institutions of German foreign trade promotion. The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) continuously coordinates and develops the network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad. They are co-funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic
Affairs and Energy (BMWI). The AHKs are membership organisations with approximately 47,000 membership companies worldwide.
Pix by Indraratne Balasuriya