Representatives of more than 40 American companies, as well as about 30 companies from India and other parts of Asia met here Tuesday with Sri Lankan and U.S. government officials to launch a “Public-Private Partnership” to explore business opportunities in Sri Lanka.

Just four months after Sri Lanka defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorist group, leaders from some of the United States’ largest companies convened to examine Sri Lanka’s growth in internet technology and outsourcing, communications, manufacturing, tourism and other industries.

Sri Lanka, with the aid of the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Commerce Department, is holding a “Public-Private Partnership” conference at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel here Oct. 13-15th. The conference will coincide with the seventh round of talks regarding the Sri Lankan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, or TIFA.

Sri Lankan officials hope expanded U.S. investment will bolster the post-conflict reconciliation process among Sri Lanka’s population. They are particularly keen to steer investment to the North and East, where the LTTE conflict took its greatest toll.

“Sri Lanka is rebuilding and is open for business,” said Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the U.S. “As an island nation we have always relied on trade. With terrorism behind us, we want to invite foreign investors to come and share in Sri Lanka’s potential.”

The conference will feature representatives of more than 40 American companies, as well as about 30 companies from India and other parts of Asia.

It will feature a day-long trip to Trincomalee, the port city on Sri Lanka’s Eastern coast, which features a natural deep harbor. Trincomalee has been the focus of political reconciliation and economic development by Sri Lankan government.

During their visit, conference participants will meet with key officials of the Eastern Provincial Council and business leaders in the Trincomalee region.

Sri Lanka’s economy has shown signs of accelerated growth since the LTTE conflict’s May 2009 conclusion. The Colombo Stock Exchange has closed at record high rates in recent weeks and was recently named by Reuters at the best-performing stock exchange worldwide.

Tourism has leaped forward, growing 10 percent in June and 28 percent in July compared to those same months in 2008. Tourism officials expect about 500,000 visitors this year.

Throughout the LTTE conflict, Sri Lanka managed to maintain gross domestic product growth rates of about six percent.

Foreign investment has also increased, and Sri Lanka has attained important international financial instruments that will further bolster its economy. These include a $2.6 billion standby loan facility from the International Monetary Fund and about $24 million in World Bank funding to support healthcare improvements.

The U.S. delegation to the conference will be led by Michael Delaney, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asia. Delaney and officials from the U.S. Commerce Department and U.S. Embassy in Colombo played vital roles in bringing the conference together. The Colombo conference is the first time that the U.S. government has organized a public-private partnership for business and government.

The TIFA talks will take place Oct. 15th.

The conference also features a special, Oct. 16th session to raise investor awareness of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The system grants duty-free benefits to a wide range of products imported from Sri Lanka. Marideth Sandler, Executive Director of the U.S. GSP program, will conduct the seminar.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

13 October 2009


Home | Sri Lanka-US Relations | Trade | Investment | Travel | Consular | Press Releases |
Statements | Features | Reports & Publications | Archive | Contact I Ideas Line