Heralding the propulsion of trade interests between Britain and Sri Lanka, the British–Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce was established recently at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London at an event attended by Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, in the presence of prominent UK businessmen, Industrialists and Financiers.
At the occasion, the President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), Neville Reyner signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretary General/CEO of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), Harin Malwatte, establishing the British–Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce.
The British Chambers of Commerce, established in 1768 and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, established in 1839, together boast an impressive and wide-ranging membership with extensive outreach.
Presentations made by the Secretary-General/CEO CCC and the Chairman of De La Rue in the UK considerably boosted the business confidence of the participants at the launch of the British–Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce.
Secretary-General/CEO of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Harin Malwatte in his presentation of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka mentioned the attractive investment climate prevailing in Sri Lanka at present: political stability, ending of a 3 decade long war, infrastructure development and improvements in the ease of doing business with a host of other conditions.
The Preferential Tariff Agreements enjoyed by SL (PTAs) such as the Indo Lanka Free Trade Agreement, Pakistan Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, SAARC Free Trade Agreement and the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement were highlighted as being conducive to investment. Bilateral investment protection agreements supported by a constitutional guarantee provide strong protection to foreign investment. Sri Lanka has never defaulted nor has requested rescheduling of any of its international obligations.
Malwatte went on to note that since the ending of the war, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has hosted 12 large investor missions in 2009 and 13 up to now in 2010. In addition 9 delegations from India alone have been hosted by the Chamber. This he mentioned was an indication of the investment interest in Sri Lanka. Though the UK was not on the top 10 investment countries in 2009 he expressed the hope that by the end 2011, the UK will figure as one of the top 10 investors in Sri Lanka.
Nicholas Brooks, Chairman of De La Rue Plc in his presentation spoke on his experiences on investing in Sri Lanka. He mentioned that his company was extremely satisfied with the knowledge and competence of the staff and the very high calibre of the technical staff and engineers in Sri Lanka. The staff turnover had been significantly low and the average absenteeism had been in the region of 1% of the loyal and committed workforce of the company. He encouraged British companies to invest in Sri Lanka with confidence.
Minister Amunugama in his speech gave a description of the new Sri Lanka the world should know about and went on to the trace the historical links between the two countries. He mentioned that Sri Lanka was well on its way to rapid economic growth and invited British businesses to make full use of the investment friendly attractive opportunities in Sri Lanka. He mentioned that in the past many investors used to bring out the internal conflict that was going on for close to 30 years and infrastructure as problems in their investment decisions. He mentioned that the conflict was a part of history now and huge investments have been made to improve infrastructure needs. He mentioned that a guarantee could be given to any investor that there will be no power cuts in Sri Lanka in the future, a guarantee most of its neighbours could not provide.
The British–Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce, an initiative of the Trade Division of the Mission with the BCC and the CCC, aims to provide a UK based network facility and higher image and profile to Sri Lanka’s Business interests.