Sept 29, Colombo: The United States and Sri Lanka will do much more business together and it is an auspicious time for American firms to do business in Sri Lanka, according to a top U.S. diplomat in the country.
Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Colombo Robert Hilton says American firms are eager to do business in Sri Lanka and the U.S. Government is engaged in ways to increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Sri Lanka on Friday, Hilton said the United States and Sri Lanka will become closer friends and allies and will do much more business together.
Recalling the visit of Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mark Linscott to Colombo, Hilton said the U.S. trade official encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to implement policies that will increase trade and improve the business climate.
Linscott has emphasized that to attract more trade and investment opportunities, Sri Lanka will have to institute predictable, sound, and transparent economic policies, including taking steps to remove corruption and favoritism from government tenders.
He has also discussed removing some of Sri Lanka’s tariffs that overly burden domestic and foreign businesses and urged the promotion of intellectual property rights encouraging Sri Lanka to increase its own competitiveness by joining the WTO Information Technology Agreement, or ITA.
The trade official has also addressed micro-level issues bringing up the current one-year limit on residence visas as a barrier to foreign investment. The government has promised to lengthen the duration of residency visas to three years.
"When the Government of Sri Lanka takes such positive steps– after joint lobbying from the AmCham and the U.S. Government - U.S. firms will naturally migrate to Sri Lanka," Hilton said adding that Sri Lanka will then be able to import more high quality U.S. goods.
According to the Chargé d'affairs Currently, Sri Lanka exports $2.8 billion of goods to the United States annually while Sri Lanka only imports $269 million from the United States.
He said this this enormous gap in trade needs to be closed for the benefit of both countries. "The Embassy will continue our engagement with USTR, the Government of Sri Lanka and the business community to address this issue," Hilton said.
"Our work, our shared work, is challenging, but we are all contributing toward a Sri Lanka that is more inclusive, more just, more peaceful, and more prosperous. And, through our hard work, the United States and Sri Lanka will become closer friends and allies and will do much more business together," Chargé d'affairs Robert Hilton said.