American Chamber prepares to tap into SL potential

Saturday, 2 October 2010 00:47 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Advances TIFA talks; launches road show incorporating east; prepares white paper on tourism

By Cheranka Mendis

Motivated by Sri Lanka’s strong economic growth and the post-war potential, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Sri Lanka has advanced the ‘Trade and Investment Framework Agreement’ talks, better known as TIFA, to mid-October and will launch a road show incorporating the east for the first time.

The talks are being held for the second year in succession. Usually held biannually, the talks – scheduled to be held next year – have been brought forward, backed by Sri Lanka’s emergence and the country’s new-found potential and capabilities,

Newly-elected President of AmCham Vijaya Ratnayake stated that TIFA talks would concentrate on a few key issues such as non-tariff barriers, taxation and intellectual property rights, which are high on its agenda.

The talks will take place at two levels — one officially and the other as a public-private conference. The conferences will look at interacting with leading policy makers of the country and would set the stage for improving trade and investment between the two countries.  

The conference is scheduled to be held on 13 October on the margins of the 8th round of talks and will see the participation of leading trade personalities such as Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Tilak Collure, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Ambassador of the US to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis and Assistant US Trade Representative for Central and South Asia Micheal Delany.

“Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabral and BOI Chairman Jayampathi Bandaranayake will also be present at the event and will make several presentations on economic challenges, the role of the private sector and emerging trade and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka,” Ratnayake said.

Moreover, US investor and President of Brandot International Martin Trust is set to speak on ‘Successful Investment Partnership in Sri Lanka.’ A US Government official and a senior cabinet member will also be in attendance. A panel discussion on tourism, IT, fisheries and textile products will also be held.

“Participants of the conference will get an opportunity to visit Jaffna, the capital of northern Sri Lanka, on 12 October, to gather firsthand information on the area and its business potential. We believe the private sector can play a major role in rebuilding these regions and in helping the country achieve better economic conditions and lasting peace for all Sri Lankans.”

AmCham will also conduct a road show starting 15 October, where US embassy staff and members of the organisation will travel from Colombo to Galle, Kandy and Trincomalee to develop better trade between the two countries as well as increase volumes by interacting more with the locals.

Ratnayake also asserted that a white paper on tourism had been prepared by the organisation in conjunction with 80 professionals. “We have pioneered this event early this year. The paper mentions in brief the key issues that hamper the tourism industry from achieving its potential growth and what solutions are needed to rectify them.”

The paper is now ready to be presented to Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, under whose purview the industry falls.