Holds Forward Looking Discussions on the Sri Lanka - U.S. Trade and Investment Partnership

Trade Minister Invites Major US Corporate Executives to Explore Sri Lanka‘s Business & Investment Potential

College of Textiles of North Carolina State University to Offer assistance in upgrading Textile Technology for Post Quota Era

Hon. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Minister of Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, attended the 4th Joint Council Meeting under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on October 26, 2004 at the White House Conference Centre in Washington D.C.

During the visit, Minister Fernandopulle met with the United States Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Zoellick and also, addressed the US Business Community at the US Chamber of Commerce following which, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the College of Textiles of the North Carolina State University and the Textile Training and Services Centre and Clothing Industry Training Institute of Sri Lanka was signed.

4th TIFA Joint Council Meeting

US - Sri Lanka Joint Council meeting ( Minister Fernandopulle, Ambassdor Subasinghe, Dr. Vidanapathirana,
Amb. Shaun Donnelly, Amb. Jossette Shiner, Amb. Ashley Wills ).

The 4th Joint Council meeting reviewed a broad range of issues that included among others, the bilateral trade relationship, Sri Lanka’s economic reform process and investment policies, the implications of the abolition of textile quotas in 2005, enforcement of the Intellectual Property Rights Law and assistance to Sri Lanka under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). Bilateral business and investment issues were also discussed in the context of increasing US direct foreign investment.

Both countries agreed to use the TIFA process to further the trade policy dialogue between the two countries with a view to expediting the bilateral trade agenda. Minister Fernandopulle emphasized that Sri Lanka will continue to maintain the momentum gathered thus far in the US-Sri Lanka trade and investment relations and that the Government will continue to engage with the US to deepen and broaden the trade and economic relationship. Informing that Sri Lanka had revised the country’s Intellectual Property Rights legislation and was presently engaged in rigorous enforcement of this legislation to protect intellectual property rights, the Minister also informed that the National Government Procurement Agency has been set up to ensure a fair and transparent Government procurement process in Sri Lanka. Minister also explained investment incentives offered by Sri Lanka and expressed Sri Lanka’s expectation to attract further US direct investment in to Sri Lanka.

Minister Fernandopulle also informed the US delegation that Sri Lanka would soon be submitting the country’s MCA Concept Paper which envisages programmes to uplift the rural infrastructure and its economy.

Ambassador Josette Shiner, Deputy USTR leading the US delegation to the TIFA in her opening remarks said, “I am enchanted with your country, the ingenuity and enterprise of your people and their potential.” Emphasizing that the bilateral trade relationship must move forward for the mutual benefit of both parties, the Deputy USTR welcomed the strict enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and setting up of the National Government Procurement Agency and action envisaged under it.

Ambassador Shiner also mentioned that the Sri Lanka Government use MCA grant financing to complement its trade development agenda by linking it to the broader reform program. According to the Deputy USTR, such a process would enhance Sri Lanka's case for entering into free trade relationship with the US.

The meeting agreed to convene the 5th Joint Council meeting in the first half of 2005 in Colombo.

The U.S. delegation to the TIFA Meeting was led by Ambassador Josette Shiner, Deputy USTR and comprised representatives of the Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Agriculture and Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) among others. Ambassador Shaun Donnelly, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs of the Department of State and Ambassador Ashley Wills, Assistant US Trade Representative, two former US Ambassadors to Sri Lanka, also participated in the TIFA discussions.

Discussions with Ambassador Robert Zoellick, USTR

Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle with the USTR Ambassador Robert Zoellick

Minister of Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs met the U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and had constructive and forward looking bilateral discussions on deepening and broadening bilateral trade and investment relations. They also reviewed a broad range of bilateral and multilateral trade issues with the forward looking objective of furthering trade liberalization.

USTR Amb. Zoellick, Minister Fernandopulle, Amb. Jossette Shiner - Deputy USTR, Amb. Ashley Wills-Asst. USTR

The visiting Minister re-affirming the new Government’s commitment to economic reform and trade liberalization to uplift the rural economy and alleviate poverty, informed that the Sri Lankan economy grew by 5.2 percent in the first half of 2004, despite the country experiencing a severe drought and surge in oil prices. The economy was expected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2004 he added. Emphasizing the country’s commitment to encouraging foreign direct investment, Minister Fernandopulle also informed that the new Government is engaged in rigorous enforcement of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislation and has set up a National Government Procurement Agency to streamline and expedite the Government procurement process.

Address to US Corporate Executives at a Luncheon Meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Minister Fernandopulle addresses US Corporate Excutives at the US Chamber of Commerce

Addressing the US Corporate Executives at a Luncheon Meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Minister Fernandopulle assured the business community of the continuity and stability in trade and economic policies of the new Government and presented its economic policies. The Minister remarked, “Sri Lanka’s long- term trade and other economic interests are best served by a stable and liberalized multilateral trading system that supports the needs of developing nations. Moving towards a more outward-oriented trade regime and improving market access for Sri Lanka’s exports are the objectives of our trade policy…and considers bilateral and regional free trade agreements as a springboard for broader trade liberalization.”

Encouraging US businessmen to develop trade and investment links with Sri Lanka and take advantage of the skilled workforce, conducive business environment and opportunities provided by the Indo-Lanka FTA, the Minister said, “Sri Lanka is of growing importance as a South Asian commercial hub for the rapidly growing economies of India and other countries in South Asia, and is positioned to be a trading centre similar to the role that Singapore plays in the ASEAN region and that Hong Kong plays in East Asia.”

Ambassador Josette Shiner, Deputy USTR addressing the Luncheon meeting said that the US and Sri Lanka will continue to work together for broadening and deepening trade and investment relations between the two countries trough the TIFA process.

Lunchon Meeting at the US Chamber of Commerce

To further enhance Sri Lanka’s case as an investment destination and an emerging ICT hub, presentations were made by Mr. Saliya Wickramasuriya, Chairman of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and Mr. Eran Wickramaratne, Chief Executive Officer of the National Development Bank of Sri Lanka. Mr. Paul Geato, President of Caterpillar Power Ventures Corporation expressing his satisfaction with Caterpillar joint venture partnership in Sri Lanka said that they look forward for further investment opportunities in the power sector in Sri Lanka. Caterpillar has invested in a 100 MW power project in Sri Lanka, with envisaged investment of US $ 61 million.

The luncheon meeting was attended by representatives from the major US companies including Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, Tyson Foods Inc., Merrill Lynch, Nexant, Textron Inc., Lincoln International, Kellwood, 3M, IMC Global Inc, Oracle Corporation, IBM, JA Austin Associates and Nathan Associates, Patton Boggs, Sara Lee Brands Apparel, Bearing Point as well as, the USAID, Department of Commerce and the US Trade and Development Agency.

Signing the MoU between TT& SC and CITI of Sri Lanka and NCSUCT of North Carolina

Signing of MoU between North Carolina State University College of Textile and TT&SC and CITI of Sri Lanka

As one of the successful outcomes of a visit undertaken by the Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum to North Carolina in September 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Textile Training & Services Centre (TT&SC) and Clothing Industry Training Institute (CITI) of Sri Lanka and the North Carolina State University College of Textiles was signed following the luncheon meeting at the US Chamber of Commerce. The MoU envisages exchange of scholars, faculty, research and extension programmes in the area of textile technology. North Carolina State University Textile College is a leading academic and research institutions for textile technology in the world.

The MOU was signed by Dr. Upananda Vidanapathirana, Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Investment Promotion and Mr. Channa Palansuriya, Chief Executive Officer of Orit Holdings Ltd. on behalf of Sri Lanka while the North Carolina State University was represented by Prof. Nancy Cassill of Department of textile and Apparel, Technology and Management North Carolina State University.

Meetings with Companies interested in building trade partnerships with Sri Lanka

Minister Fernandopulle also met with US exporters of poultry products, wheat and wheat flour to explore the possibility of expanding trade in these products with a view to ensuring stable supply and competitive prices of these products to the Sri Lankan consumers. These companies include; Tyson foods Inc., Bunge North America, Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill, Lincoln International. The Minister also had discussions with trade association such as National Grain Association, North American Millers Association, US Wheat associates, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, and American Soy Bean Association on the possibility of expanding trade between the two countries.

The Sri Lanka delegation to the 4th Joint Council Meeting under the TIFA included the Hon. Minister of Trade, Commerce & Consumer Affairs, accompanied by Dr. U. Vidanapathirana, Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Tourism & Investment Promotion, Amb. K.J. Weerasinghe, Director General of Commerce and Mr. Saliya Wickramasuriya, Chairman, BOI during his visit to Washington D.C. Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Saman Udagedara, Minister (Commercial) and Ms. Ameena Mohin, Second Secretary (Commercial) of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

26 October 2004

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