July 19, Colombo: Simon Smits, the Vice Minister for Foreign Trade of The Netherlands and a Dutch trade delegation of five high level business representatives concluded a successful visit to Sri Lanka.
Right from the outset of the trade mission, the Vice Minister has emphasized that - after a 40 year focus on development cooperation - this mission is the start in a long term heightened trade relationship between the two countries, giving credibility to the Dutch Embassy's motto: Sri Lanka - The Netherlands, Old Friends - New Trends, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands said in a statement Friday.
The Dutch Minister at first hand experienced the vast strides Sri Lanka has been making in the economic sphere in the post conflict phase. He was particularly pleased with Sri Lanka's economic performance in the recent past, indicating that some of the economic indicators which Sri Lanka is currently enjoying would qualify the country for joining the Eurozone.
His high level engagements with Minister Basil Rajapaksa and with the Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P.B. Jayasundera provided useful insights into the economic development, as well as the opportunities and challenges that are faced in various sectors in Sri Lanka. Discussions focused on improving trade and economic ties and investments, with an emphasis on water, health, logistics and infrastructure, agriculture and livestock development, some of the "top-sectors" identified by The Netherlands.
A Business Opportunity Meeting chaired by Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena centered on the common challenges and on the possibilities for cooperation between Dutch companies and institutions and their Sri Lankan counterparts. The need to establish production facilities in Sri Lanka for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, insulin and the lack of dental technologists in the country were some of the specific issues discussed.
A similar meeting under the guidance of Minister of Water Supply and Drainage Dinesh Gunawardena focused on the need to increase piped water supply and safe drainage. Reduction of non-revenue water, monitoring mechanisms, laboratory services, salinity intrusion and the high energy costs of producing drinking water were the key areas of discussion.
During the trade mission to Sri Lanka, the Dutch delegation took part in field visits to the Colombo Port, Dikowita Fisheries Harbor, National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Kelani Right Bank Water Treatment Plant and the Galle Fort area. The Dutch trade stands ready to engage and explore opportunities in Sri Lanka.
Highlights of Minister Smits' visit were the signing of a contract between The Ministry of Economic Development and Janson Bridging International BV for the construction of 463 Rural Bridges under the 1000 Rural Bridge Programme and honoring the Dutch company Van der Knaap and its Sri Lankan subsidiary Growrite for emerging as the winners of a worldwide competition and receiving the Dutch "2014 Ambassadors' Award".