U.S., SRI LANKA BUSINESSES AND GOVERNMENTS
MEET TO EXPAND “PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP”
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
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
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
13 October 2009