Uncle Sam Ahoy!

Monday, 4 October 2010 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

In the wake of last year’s success of a US investor meet in Colombo some have expressed interest in commencing operations in Sri Lanka, due to which a second annual conference is scheduled for next week.

The second annual conference will be held in Colombo from 12-14 October giving business executives a chance to meet government officials to discuss the possibilities of expanding U.S. businesses in Sri Lanka.

Following the conference, the United States and Sri Lanka will hold talks over the  U.S.-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Following the talks, U.S. officials will brief the Sri Lankan private sector on how to get maximum benefit from trade with the US.

The conference is organised by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington, D.C. and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lanka Trade Ministry.

Investors will also have an opportunity to visit Jaffna on 12 October to gather first-hand information on the area and its business potential.

“Our first conference last year gave people a good look at Sri Lanka, and the potential for businesses there,” said Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States. “Now some of those businesses are planning to begin operations in Sri Lanka. We want to make sure that business people know the advantages of investing here.”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during a visit to the United Nations last week, met U.S. investors during a business development luncheon. The president met each of the 150 luncheon guests, and External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, described the advantages that U.S. companies enjoy by investing in Sri Lanka.

Those benefits include Sri Lanka’s free trade agreements with India and Pakistan that gives U.S. businesses duty-free access to those large markets, as well as relaxed foreign investment regulations to help renew its economy, which grew at nearly eight percent during the first half of 2010.

The conference will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Colombo. The hotel is offering special rates to conference attendees. Last year’s event featured more than 40 American businesses, as well as those already operating in India.

As the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said, “This conference will provide you with an excellent opportunity to discuss specific investment opportunities with senior officials of the Sri Lankan government and to meet many prospective investment partners on a one-to-one basis.

After nearly three decades of conflict, both the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, in addition to other regions, are now open to private sector investment. The ambitious development initiatives envisaged for these regions by the Sri Lankan government will soon pave the way for substantial trade and investment opportunities for U.S. entrepreneurs.