Aug 19, Colombo: The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka recently held a Business and Investment Forum at the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) in Ahmedabad, targeting the Chamber's membership. This Forum was supported by the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi and the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Mumbai.
Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade led a Business delegation comprising Ravi Dadlani, Managing Director CEAT Kelani Holdings, Vivek Mehata, CEO MAS Brands India, Sanjay Jain, Executive Director & COO, Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC and Shantha Bandara, COO, Sunshine Holdings.
Senior officials present included Austin Fernando, Sri Lanka High Commissioner in India, Ms Upeka Samaratunga, Minister (Commercial) and Ms Chamari Rodrigo, Consul General of Sri Lanka, Mumbai. The BOI was also represented by Chairman Mangala Yapa, Ms Nilupul De Silva, Director Investment Promotion and Jagath De Silva, Senior Deputy Director Media and Publicity.
Over 100 leading Indian businessmen from Gujarat representing diverse sectors participated at the Forum, showing keen interest in trade and investment opportunities. Gujarat, on the Western Coast of India is of considerable importance to Sri Lanka as India's fifth largest state economy which is a dynamo in manufacturing and agriculture, both of which are focus sectors for Sri Lanka. Gujarat is also a leader in the field of cotton and dairy production in India.
Durgash V Buch, President, GCCI delivered the welcome address at the Forum, stating that Gujarat and Sri Lanka can be partners in promoting Agro-processing Industries, Textile, Petrochemicals, Spices and Tea. He went on to say that, of GCCI's total member strength of 6,000, at least 1,000 members deal with Sri Lanka on a regular basis in sectors including Refractories, Pharmaceuticals, Apparel, Plastic Packaging, Starch, Petroleum and Petro products, Tea and other Agro-products. He further noted that "Sri Lanka also has an FTA with Singapore and Singapore in return has FTAs across the Globe with major countries like the USA, Turkey, Japan and China to name a few, which I believe our Gujarati entrepreneurs will take into consideration while investing in Sri Lanka".
At the outset H E Austin Fernando, Sri Lanka High Commissioner in New Delhi who initiated this Forum mentioned that value addition is a part of economic development that can help both countries. Both countries would benefit from a Win-Win situation through trade and investment. He elaborated on Brandix, a Sri Lankan success story based in Vishakapatnam, which has provided 17,000 job opportunities which includes 12,000 Indian female workers.
Delivering the Keynote address, Minister Samarawickrema focused on Sri Lanka's promise as an investment destination, and invited Indian investors to Sri Lanka, in order to enjoy it's geographical advantages, port connectivity and efficiency, preferential tariff access to large markets (EU market in particular), highly trainable human resource pool and other benefits. The Minister emphasized Sri Lanka's safety in terms for investment. He further stated that "we are keen to promote manufacturing investment in order to provide employment for our people".
Mangala Yapa made a Presentation on "Investment Opportunities in Sri Lanka" covering reasons for Investing in Sri Lanka and Growth Sectors and Investment Opportunities. He then went on to moderate a panel discussion amongst the business delegates from Sri Lanka, who shared their perspectives and experiences of "Doing Business in Sri Lanka".
During the interaction that followed, members of GCCI expressed keen interest in Sri Lanka's investment proposition, while commending Government policies that actively encourage private sector led growth. The GCCI was very supportive of expanding investment and trade from Gujarat to Sri Lanka.