AIMGSL hosts first CEOs’ Breakfast Forum: Setting sights on EU markets

Wednesday, 23 February 2022 01:16 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Association of International Marketing Graduates in Sri Lanka (AIMGSL) hosted the first AIMG CEOs’ Breakfast Forum on 2 February, at Earls Court, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, welcoming the Ambassador of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Denis Chaibi as the keynote speaker, and Dilmah Tea CEO Dilhan Fernando, and Brandix Apparel Solutions Ltd. CEO Rajiv Malalasekera as guest speakers at the forum.

The event welcomed over 100 participants with the presence of Ambassadors of Australia and France for a knowledge sharing session on the topic of ‘Setting Sights on EU Markets’, where Ambassador Chaibi shared in-depth knowledge and insights into the new rules and regulations of the EU markets, what support the EU can extend to Sri Lanka particularly with regard to support in technology and machinery for relevant businesses, such as fisheries, the importance of renewable energy, how SME exporters can improve exports to the EU and what imports can benefit Sri Lanka from the EU. 

In his welcome address, Association of International Marketing Graduates in Sri Lanka Chairman Sujith Silva stated: “On behalf of the Association of International Marketing Graduates, I extend a warm welcome to all of you. It is a great pleasure to have all of you with us. This is a key opportunity for corporate CEOs and marketers to gain keen insights into foreign markets as you look to expand beyond Sri Lanka’s shores. The aim of this program is to further enlighten our members and industry leaders on potential opportunities for growth that will not only benefit each individual and brand but also aid in the upliftment of Sri Lanka’s economy. I wish you all a meaningful and enriching program.”

Speaking at the event, keynote speaker Ambassador Denis Chaibi commented, “The point I would like to focus on is the risk factor when setting sights on the EU market and the importance of risk analysis before you even start to market your product. This by far may be your most crucial step. As we all know, the EU massively regulates their trade, policies, etc., more so than any other territory or nation. The EU is an environment of so many moving pieces that strict regulation is integral to its survival. This is due to the philosophical-legal construct of the systems, where the EU prepares to pre-emptively pan for envisioned scenarios, as opposed to waiting for market changes or present situations. 

“How is this done? Well, we have 30,000 officials based in Brussels, whose core job is to assess and regulate so as to support the EU market and strengthen it. A prime example is with Cyber Environments/Markets which posed and still poses a lot of challenges for many markets – but the EU was the first one to come up with solutions for this and to manage the expectations and regulate the market so both can grow together. These regulations then trickle down and create a knock-on effect on the entities and nations that do business with the EU. 

“For example, with ‘The EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles’, which was part of the ‘EU Circular Economy Action Plan in 2020 – there are three new requirements on packaging and packaging waste, which means that for the textile industry, you need data on how you’re going to source your components as well as what happens to this once it is sold. Here we see the importance of big data in order to minimise the level of taxation whilst maximising your access to this market. But I hope that the rest of the industry is as clever and passionate as the next speakers because if you do not take the initiative, then your entry into the market may fall short.” During their guest speaker slots, both Dilmah Tea CEO Dilhan Fernando and Brandix Apparel Solutions Ltd. CEO Rajiv Malalasekera spoke about invaluable expertise and insight in business expansion, how their brands do market research in EU markets and how their success in such markets began and continues to date. 

Fernando commented, “Today people don’t just buy products. There are billions of products flooding the market, from around the world. This is where marketing has become an integral part of any brand where our focus is no longer about the product, but about the experience and emotional appeal these products create. Passion for what you do demands that you understand your product inside-out. 

“This is particularly important in the EU, and in most modern markets as there is a very robust regulatory framework. This regulatory framework is part of modern marketing and the prowess of any brand. It is in our interest that whilst we are passionate about our produce, cinnamon, tea, whatever it may be that we work compliantly. When we look at the climate crisis that faces us, as His Excellency mentioned – our need to embrace sustainable social systems and renewable energy is imperative.”

The Association of International Marketing Graduates in Sri Lanka (AIMG) was established in July 2020 by veterans of the marketing industry boasting over three decades of expertise and experience, with its main focus to create a dynamic and professional association for graduates with international marketing qualifications, connecting young and senior members to create a platform for knowledge sharing via workshops, programs and various other activities. Its objective remains to aid Sri Lanka-based marketers to stay at the forefront of their professions and the market.