Presenting ‘Opportunity Sri Lanka’ which encompasses Sri Lanka’s strategic location, unparalleled market access to South Asia, Europe, and America, and a talented workforce with a willingness to do business with the world, Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Dr Harsha de Silva urged British businesses to take advantage of Sri Lanka’s rapidly transformed economic landscape for mutual benefit. Minister Dr de Silva made these remarks delivering the Keynote Address at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum in London on Wednesday 9 October 2019, organized by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in London in association with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, the London Stock Exchange Group and the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM). The forum held at the London Stock Exchange was attended by more than 120 participants including 70 representatives from the corporate sector, 18 from British institutions and associations, and cross-party parliamentarians and senior Government officials from the UK. The sectors represented at the Forum were IT and IT enabled services, manufacturing, logistics, tourism infrastructure, financial services, education and skills development, renewable energy, among others. Minister de Silva and delegation were welcomed at the London Stock Exchange by Dr. Robert Barnes, Global Head of Primary Markets and CEO Turquoise and London Stock Exchange Group, who also addressed the forum.
Welcoming the participants at the event, High Commissioner Manisha Gunasekera said the special bond that the UK enjoys with Sri Lanka due to historical reasons was essentially a force for good in sustaining the centrality of Sri Lanka’s investment and trade relationship with the UK. The UK which absorbs nearly 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s total exports, is the second single largest export destination, and also the 5th largest FDI sourced country for Sri Lanka. For these reasons, Sri Lanka looks forward to continuing its dialogue with the British Government to safeguard the current market access levels and preferences following post-Brexit arrangements. She identified the English language and Sri Lanka’s shared educational, administrative, governance and legal systems, as factors contributing to the close bilateral economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and the UK, and invited the participants to be part of a virtuous circle of such close cooperation and synergy.
The Chief Guest of the event, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth, the UN and South Asia of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recalling his very recent visit to Sri Lanka said he had the opportunity to meet leading business people in Sri Lanka and discuss opportunities for economic growth, development and strengthening commercial links with the UK. He emphasized the need to do much more to strengthen the incredible collaboration and future cooperation between the UK and Sri Lanka which share important bonds. He appreciated the contribution made by British Sri Lankans to all facets of life in the UK. He said he was struck by the energy and drive of Sri Lankan business leaders and youth. Lord Ahmad noted Sri Lanka’s status as a vibrant emerging trading hub and the upward move of Sri Lanka’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2019 by 11 notches.
Presentations on Sri Lanka’s macro-economic outlook and investment opportunities were made by Senior Deputy Governor, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Dr Nandalal Weerasinghe and Chairman, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Mangala Yapa, while Ann Neidenbach of the London Stock Exchange Group and Chris Trill of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation made presentations on their success stories and flagship partnerships in Sri Lanka. Past Chairman of SLASSCOM, Ruwindu Peiris presented on the digital competitiveness of Sri Lanka, and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Colombo Port City Liang Thow Ming on investment opportunities in Colombo Port City. The event concluded with a Panel Discussion and Question and Answer session moderated by Chairman BOI Mangala Yapa, where Vice Chair, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Vish Gowindasamy; Group Chief Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC, Jeremy Huxtable; Head of Operations, De La Rue PLC, Andrew Hydes; President, Global Sourcing Association Kerry Hallard; and Head of Trade and Investment, British High Commission in Colombo Michael Fernandopulle were the panellists. The forum also included a networking session and B2Bs.
During his visit to the UK, Minister de Silva also met Dr. Liam Fox, MP and former Secretary of State for International Trade, and the Minister of State for International Trade Conor Burns, MP. The meeting with Minister Burns focussed on UK - Sri Lanka bilateral trade and the status of Sri Lanka’s exports to the UK market post-Brexit, including ways and means of safeguarding their competitiveness and preferences.
Presentation by Mangala Yapa, Chairman, Board of Investment Sri Lanka (BOI) on "Investment Opportunities in Sri Lanka"