Colombo will host a global forum for higher exports, with the event drawing over 300 participants, including several ministers, business leaders and professionals.
The 16th edition of the prestigious World Export Development Forum (WEDF) will be held in Colombo from 12-13 October with organisers anticipating around 350 registered foreign participants.
President Maithripala Sirisena will be the Chief Guest at the ceremonial inauguration on Wednesday at 3.00 p.m.
The International Trade Centre (ITC), together with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), are the hosts of the two-day global conference themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’.
A highlight of the global export industry calendar, the forum is being graced by Patricia Scotland – Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Khurran Dastgir Khan – Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce, Wang Shouwen – Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce of China and Arancha Gonzalez – Executive Director of the ITC among many others who will address challenges in international trade and propose solutions to overcoming them.
Péter Szijjártó - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Dr. Petra Pana - Deputy State Secretary for Foreign Economic Affairs, both of whom are representing Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar - Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dr. Mukisha Kituyi – Secretary General for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), D.J. Pandian – Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and Wabuyele Matanda – CEO of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also participate in the conference.
Among the global business leaders who will be present at the summit is Vikrom Kromadit, CEO of Thailand’s biggest industrial park developer.
Eben Sermon, Vice President for Greater Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at eBay Inc., will also attend the conference as well as Hongbing Gao, Vice President of the Alibaba Group and Director of Ali Research.
Other notable dignitaries and business leaders include Tony Nash – CEO and Chief Economist of Complete Intelligence Singapore, Dr. Naushad Forbes – President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Stefano Arganese, CEO of Central Eastern Europe and Middle Europe for DHL.
As a platform offering infinite opportunity to capitalise on the local trade potential, the conference will also be represented by the cream of the local commercial sector, bearing great promise for the immediate future of the local economy.
This year’s event will stage four key plenary sessions, with the opening plenary session taking on the timely topic ‘When Regional Blocs Cross Oceans’, discussing the significance of driving global connectivity through improved and well-governed trade facilitation. The second session takes on the competitiveness of today’s digital economy by discussing the topic ‘Digital Doors to Trade’.
Day Two will present a plenary session on ‘Standards: A Gateway to Global Markets’, focusing on changing consumer mindsets and standards required to regulate resulting dynamic supply chains. The final plenary session will touch base on tourism, one of the biggest potential sectors in export investment and development, focusing on ‘Authenticity: The New Tourism Destination’.
The plenary sessions have acted as catalysts for the WEDFs across the years, facilitating discussions on pressing issues as well as trending trade policies and industry-changing plans and decisions.
The first day of the conference will also present two ‘In-focus’ sessions, offering the audience valuable insight into practical business cases and will be presented by highly successful business entrepreneurs in the region. The first session will discuss ‘Trade Facilitation and Logistics in Regional Integration’, while the second will focus on how ‘Young Entrepreneurs Enable Innovation’.
Day Two of the conference will host ‘How-to’ workshops, slated to take on timely and beneficial trade topics for SMEs. The sessions are categorised across the main focus groups, ‘Young Entrepreneurs – From Ideas to Markets’ for the millennials that are venturing out on their own, ‘Services for Women Entrepreneurs’ targeted at the growing number of females who are exploring new business avenues, a workshop on ‘How to go Digital’ focusing on the importance of digital marketing and awareness for new businesses and ‘Managing Logistics in the Supply Chain’ for efficient and lean business processes. These sessions will be presented by ITC’s very own trade experts.
The highlight of the two-day forum however, remains to be the dedicated Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings for registered companies, set to expedite business opportunities and partnerships across borders.
These B2B meetings between high potential buyers and sellers will cater to sectors such as tourism, information and communication technology (ICT), apparel and most importantly manufacturing, with the country currently deeply focused on investment in manufacturing for export.
The full agenda for the conference can be found at www.wedf.edb.gov.lk/index.php/about/aboutforum