Sri Lanka and the European Union (EU) recently revived the investor dialogue between the two with Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and EU Ambassador Denis Chaib as co-chairs.
Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Development Coordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology Namal Rajapaksa, State Minister for Aviation and Export Zones Development D.V. Chanaka, State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya also participated in this discussion.
The EU was represented by German Ambassador Holger Seubert, French Ambassador Eric Lavertue, the Netherlands Ambassador Tania Gonggrijp, Italy’s Deputy Head of Mission Franceso Perale, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium (based in India) Arnaud Lion, French Embassy’s Economic Counsellor, Jean-Alexandre Egea, EU Deputy Head of Mission Thorsten Bargfrede.
BOI Chairman Eng. Raja Edirisuriya delivered the opening remarks and gave an outline of the over view of the economic situation, foreign investment trend in 2021 and the latest measures and regulations to support foreign investment.
“Doing business in Sri Lanka has now returned to normalcy, despite what the country went through with the pandemic,” he said. “The BOI looks forward to working closely with the EU to facilitate the existing investors as well as to encourage the existing companies to re-invest and expand their operations in Sri Lanka,” the BOI Chairman added.
EU Ambassador Chaibi who spoke of the bilateral trade and EU investment in Sri Lanka said: “this kind of dialogue is an important forum to solve the issues of EU investors and retain them in Sri Lanka in the long run.” He also stated that: “the EU would like to make Sri Lanka an attractive investment destination for potential investors from the EU.”
Matters discussed at the dialogue comprised of the foreign exchange crisis in Sri Lanka, the need for a better consistency regarding investment and tax policies, the need for a streamlined, clearer and easy process to establish a company in Sri Lanka, positioning Sri Lanka as a transport and logistic hub, promoting public private partnerships to boost EU Investment in Sri Lanka, improve the trade facilitation to increase the competitiveness and efficiency of the economy, modernising the health sector.
Senior Government officials led by Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygala, respective line agencies including Central Bank of Sri Lanka, National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), Registrar of Companies, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka Customs, Department of Commerce and BOI participated in the discussion.
The EU-Sri Lanka Investor Dialogue is a facilitation forum that was launched originally by the BOI in 2014, in close collaboration with the European Union Delegation in Sri Lanka. Hence, it has been an effective platform for existing investors from the EU to discuss issues faced by the companies with Senior Government officials in order to find solutions.
The European Chambers of Commerce in Sri Lanka (ECCISL) and the Delegation of German Industry of Commerce (AHK), along with the Deutsche Bank and leading companies from the EU such as: Michelin (Camso Loadstar), Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC., (DIMO) B Braun, CMA CGM, Hafele International, OTV Veolia, Calamansi Cove Villa project (Jet Wings Hotel) Baurs and Hapag-loyd, also participated in the dialogue.
Both sides agreed to continue this dialogue on a regular basis, as well as to discuss issues faced by investors from the EU on one to one sessions and arrange for technical sessions with the relevant agencies and respective EU Missions to follow up and to make the facilitation more effective.