From left: Sri Lanka High Commission Second Secretary (Commercial) Senuja Samaraweera, Sri Lanka High Commission Minister (Commercial) Dr. Lakmini Mendis, Board of Investment Director General Champika Malalgoda, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK Manisha Gunasekera, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade Secretary Sisira Kodikara and Deputy High Commissioner – designate Samantha Pathirana
Panellists from left: Board of Investment Director General Champika Malalgoda, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade Secretary Sisira Kodikara and Sri Lanka High Commission Minister (Commercial) Dr. Lakmini Mendis
Participants at the investment and trade roundtable
- ‘Investment and Trade Opportunities in Sri Lanka’
The Sri Lanka High Commission in London organised a roundtable presentation followed by a networking lunch on ‘Investment and Trade Opportunities in Sri Lanka’ for the British-Sri Lankan business community, on Monday 2 September, at the Holiday Inn Kensington High Street in London.
The roundtable was the first diaspora outreach event organised by the Sri Lanka High Commission under the Economic Diplomacy Programme (EDP) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, and was supported by the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade and the Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka.
Selected members of the British-Sri Lankan community representing all ethnicities, i.e., Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim, with investment or trade potential or already engaged in business, participated in the roundtable on the invitation of the High Commission. A unique feature of the roundtable was the opportunity it provided to tap into a significant portion of the diaspora hitherto not engaged by the High Commission.
In her opening remarks, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the UK Manisha Gunasekera welcomed the convening of the first diaspora outreach event organised under the Foreign Ministry’s Economic Diplomacy Programme. She expressed the interest and intent of the Sri Lanka Government to build on this initiative and reach out to many more potential investors and business persons from the British-Sri Lankan community in the future. She also requested the dissemination of information communicated at the forum among participant contacts and networks for optimum results.
The High Commissioner also appreciated the efforts of those community representatives who supported the event by tapping into potential investors and businesspersons who were thus engaged. Secretary, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade Sisira Kodikara in his address detailed the mandate of his Ministry in promoting investment and trade, and elaborated on the policy regime introduced and implemented by the Sri Lanka Government to further streamline investment and trade.
The keynote presentation on investment opportunities in Sri Lanka was delivered by the Director General of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Champika Malalgoda. The Director General in her presentation referred to BOI’s mandate, Sri Lanka’s investment climate and economic potential, legislative and regulatory regime, incentives, potential sectors for investment from the UK, as well as investment opportunities in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
The presentation on trade opportunities in Sri Lanka was delivered by the Minister Commercial of the Sri Lanka High Commission Dr. Lakmini Mendis. The Minister Commercial’s presentation focussed on Sri Lanka-UK bilateral trade, potential sectors and business opportunities, EU GSP+ and preferential market access to the UK, scope for diversification of our export basket to the UK, among other issues.
Dr. Mendis also elaborated on the ‘One Village One Product’ (OVOP) programme and the 2000 New Exporter Programme launched by the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka to strengthen the supply base and empower and integrate potential SME exporters of Sri Lanka in global value chains.
The presentations which were well received were followed by a Q&A session which provided the audience with a valuable opportunity to pose questions on practicalities of investing in and doing business with Sri Lanka, and gaining clarity on regulations, tax concessions and incentives on offer, ownership and land lease, as well as the legal regime of the Colombo Port City.
Around 35 invitees participated in the forum, representing the sectors such as financial, healthcare (care homes, special needs and autism support), tourism infrastructure and leisure, agriculture and farming, construction and real estate, ICT and BPO, manufacturing (pharmaceutical and medical equipment), energy, waste management and exporting of spices and food items, among others.
In addition to promoting investment and trade, a larger objective of the roundtable was to broaden and deepen the High Commission’s outreach to the British-Sri Lankan community of all ethnicities, and to initiate and maintain a constructive and a mutually beneficial dialogue with them around economic engagement with Sri Lanka. The audience support was also sought to expand the network to other potential investors and business persons in a targeted manner.