Belgium gets bullish on post-war Sri Lanka

Thursday, 18 November 2010 01:09 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

50-member trade and investment mission from Brussels in Colombo next week

A top level Belgian trade and investment delegation will be visiting Sri Lanka from 22-26 November.

The visit is a result of an exemplary joint effort between the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Belgium, the Embassy of Belgium in New Delhi and the Consulate of Belgium in Colombo. The Honorary Consul to Belgium for Sri Lanka, Flanders Investment and Trade, Agence Wallonne à l’Exportation et aux Investissements Etrangers, Brussels Export, Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry, Belgolux – Sri Lanka Business Council in Belgium, the Benelux Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and Sri Lankan Airlines has supported this endeavour.

The delegation consists of 40 companies (over 50 persons) in the fields of agro-food, machinery, construction, interior, energy, fisheries, gems, information technology, infrastructure, water supply, financial services, textile, tobacco, tourism investments and various trading companies.

Most of them are seeking to do business with Sri Lanka for the first time. Please find attached the full list of the companies represented (sector wise) and also the tentative programme they would be following during their stay in Sri Lanka.

The need to further develop economic cooperation can be clearly felt from both sides. Projects of several Belgian companies in the health sector, infrastructure, water supply, water sanitation and waste disposal to the value in excess of Euro 50 million have already received or are in the process to be approved by the Government of Sri Lanka and many more projects are waiting to be implemented.

Sri Lanka is at peace and ready for a phase of rapid economic development led by the private sector and strongly supported by the Government which is determined to realise massive infrastructure projects to support its growth process.

Belgium would be glad to be a partner in this development process and therefore end of September 2010 a combined operation was established which results in less than two months in a large and diversified trade delegation.

Jean Deboutte, Ambassador of Belgium to Sri Lanka observed: “This trade mission comes at a most opportune moment.  After a long war, Sri Lanka is embarking on a new phase of its economic development, whereas the Belgian economy is in an expansion phase, after the global economic slowdown. Belgium is very much aware of the economic potential of Asia and particularly of South Asia.

“The conditions are thus right to engage in an enhanced cooperation and to maximise the benefits of complementarities between the two economies. The contacts with Sri Lankan key decision makers in the political and economic field will enlarge and deepen the long standing multi faceted excellent relations between Belgium and Sri Lanka.”

Ravinatha Aryasinha, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU, observed: “Given that at present over 70% of Sri Lanka-Belgium two way trade centres on diamonds and Belgian investment is limited to a handful of products, the diversity in the sectors represented by the participating delegation is its most significant feature.

“That a bulk of them for the first time have chosen to explore investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and import our products notwithstanding the absence of preferential trade with Europe, is also indicative of the competitiveness and potential Sri Lanka continues to enjoy in these markets. Together with Belgian tourist arrivals expected to increase by over 100% by the end of this year, all facets of the Sri Lanka-Belgium relationship are showing great promise.”

During their stay in the island the delegation will call on G. L. Peiris, Minister of  External Affairs, Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce and Sarath Amunugama, Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning and Senior Presidential Advisor.

They will also meet Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor Central Bank of Sri Lanka and other senior Government officials and attend a briefing at the BOI, as well as a sector specific seminar on construction, interior, infrastructure, harbour and marina development and tourism projects held in collaboration with the Chamber of Construction Industry.

Two matchmaking opportunities are also being organised by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, as well as by the Benelux Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, for companies interested in meeting Sri Lankan exporters and manufacturers. The visiting Belgian companies will also have individual B2B meetings.

The programme also provides for opportunities for visits to Sri Lanka’s blue-chip companies, several companies based on Belgian investment, building a future foundation in the frame of sustainable fishing and touristic exploration and excursions.

Key officials and business persons associated with the visit will address a press conference at 6 p.m. on 23 November 2010 at the Barefoot Garden Café.

Since Belgium is also known for excellent food, the Belgian Week 2010 can definitely not go by without several culinary and gastronomic events. A Belgian Food Festival with the Chef Filip Van de Venster flown in from the gastronomic restaurant Vensterke in Londerzeel, Belgium, will be held from 20-28 November 2010 at the Cheers Pub, Cinnamon Grand, for lunch and dinner. A grand Belgian gastronomic dinner is to be held on Wednesday, 24 November.

Parties interested in any aspects of the visit of the Belgian Trade and Investment Delegation are requested to get in touch with the Consulate of Belgium and to indicate a day, time and venue for the proposed meetings. The full list of participants and their profiles could be obtained upon request.

For more information and reservations contact the Consulate of Belgium on 011-2504351 or [email protected].