SRI LANKA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS: LANKA
TRADE MISSION COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL VISIT TO UNITED STATES
Efforts by the Board of Investment and
the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington DC generate unprecedented
from the US private sector
Minister of Enterprise Development, Investment Promotion and
Media Anura Priyadhashana Yapa addresses US Business Leaders
who attended the investment forum in New York
Generating an unprecedented scale of response
from the private sector entrepreneurs in the United States (US),
a major investment promotional drive launched across four major
cities in the US over the last week ended on a highly successful
note. The campaign, carried out from 20th - 24th July, included
series of activities in Los Angeles, San Jose, New York and Washington
The success is primarily due to the untiring
efforts and planning by the Board of Investment (BOI) and the
Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC, who worked in close collaboration
with the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Permanent
Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York.
Hon. Anura Priyadhashana Yapa, Minister of Enterprise
Development, Investment Promotion and Media had the opportunity
of meeting with enthusiastic American business leaders in New
York and Washington, DC, as investors showed strong interest in
post-conflict Sri Lanka.
The Minister told audiences at the Harvard Club
of New York and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC
that the end of the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam - LTTE had ushered in anew ear for the country’s economy.
“At this crucial time in our history, our main objective
is to expand the economy of Sri Lanka as far as we can,”
Minister Yapa said.”
A large number of business leaders attended the
investment forums in New York and Washington D.C., a mojority
of whom had specific business proposals, according to Duminda
Ariyasinghe, Executive Director of the BOI, who accompanied Minister
Mr. Ariyasinghe gave the Harvard Club audience
a detailed account of the sectors open for foreign investments,
the incentives and the benefits the foreign investors in Sri Lanka
could enjoy as part of a vast regional market that includes free
trade agreements that Sri Lanka has with India and Pakistan.
A cross section of the business Leaders who attended the investment
forum in New York
The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC) was closely
associated in organizing the investment forum held at the Harvard
Club. The MCC represents the voice of over 100,000 companies in
Manhattan and partner with over 300 diverse business organizations
in the city. The MCC member companies, which have approximately
4.5 million employees globally, account for over $630 billion
dollars in annual revenues.
The New York investment forum also marked the
inauguration of the newly formed US-Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce
(USSLCC) - a timely initiative by the Sri Lanka Mission to the
UN and the Embassy in Washington DC. The chamber already brings
together a large number of private sector firms, owned primarily
by expatriate Sri Lankan entrepreneurs based in the New York Tri-state
The audience also witnessed the MCC, one of the
premier trade chambers in New York, and the USSLCC signing a Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) for the purpose of fostering closer linkages
between the business communities of the two countries. Following
their signing of the MOU, Ms. Nancy Ploeger and Mr. Anil J Vitharana,
presidents of the two chambers, addressed the gathering.
Minister Yapa briefing senior U.S. trade officials and business
representatives during the investment forum at the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington DC
A large number of business representatives attended
the investment briefing held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce along
with several senior U.S. trade officials, including Mr. Michael
Delaney, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central
Asian Affairs and Ms. Holly Vineyard, Deputy Asst. Secretary for
Africa, the Middle East and South Asia at the U.S. Commerce Department.
In his address, Mr. Delaney stated that he was
highly impressed with the huge potential the post-conflict Sri
Lanka holds for foreign investors. Mr. Delaney, who visited Sri
Lanka twice over the last couple of months, would be leading an
official delegation to Colombo in October this year for a Private-Public
Partnership Conference and the next round of talks under the US-Sri
Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement - TIFA.
Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador
to the U.S., told the Washington gathering that, “Having
successfully defeated terrorism after nearly thirty years of war,
Sri Lanka’s investment potential has become ever more stronger
and promising. The country is well set for a bright economic future.”
Ambassador urged the US private sector to have
a fresh look at Sri Lanka and make use of the unique investment
opportunities the island offers to the international business
community. He also invited them to join the Private-Public Partnership
Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Colombo in October
this year on the sidelines of the TIFA talks.
The US Chamber of Commerce is the world’s
largest business federation, representing more than three million
businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.
The Washington meeting occurred on the same day
that the International Monetary Fund in Washington approved a
$2.5 billion standby loan facility for Sri Lanka.
Minister Yapa explained that there were over
75 U.S. companies currently in Sri Lanka with direct foreign investment
of $200 million. The immediate goal, he said, is to expand that
investment to $1 billion.
Two days before Minister Yapa arrived in the
U.S. for meetings in New York and Washington, two other top Sri
Lankan development officials met with business leaders in California.
On July 20, Mr. Kulasekera , Deputy Director
General (Investment & Promotion) and Mr Duminda Ariyasinghe,
Executive Director (Investor & Promotion) of Sri Lanka’s
Board of Investment (BOI), took part in a business roundtable
at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. After the session, they
held one-on-one meetings with potential Sri Lankan investors,
including a dairy company.
At a business luncheon, BOI Officials briefed
a group of potential investors on the economic situation in Sri
Lanka and prospects for foreign investment in a post-conflict
On July 21, the Sri Lankan the Board of Investment
officials met in San Jose, California, with representatives of
a Japanese automobile spare parts company that is contemplating
establishing a production facility in Sri Lanka. The company already
operates in other Asian nations but is considering relocating
to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Board of Investment officials also
met with a shrimp farming company that wants to locate in Sri
Lanka to produce shrimp but also extract glucosamine from shrimp
shells. Glucosamine is a dietary supplement that is used to treat
A third meeting on July 21 involved talks with
a developer who wants to establish a 100-acre eco-park in Sri
Lanka, a facility that will grow herbs while serving as a resort.
Other meetings involved discussions with a condominium
developer and an investment portfolio management firm.
The San Jose visit closed with a meeting between
the BOI Officials and a Senior Vice President of Google, the internet
search engine company. Those discussions involved the status of
Sri Lanka’s internet technology and how Google may outsource
some of its activities to Sri Lanka.
The Office of the USTR and the Embassy are already
working very closely in attracting as many companies as possible
to the Private-Public Partnership Conference in Colombo this October.
The participants will also have an opportunity to meet with the
senior policy makers in the Sri Lankan government and visit Trincomalie,
a port city in the eastern-region, in order to have a first-hand
look at the emerging investment opportunities in the region.
Visit of the Minister and the BOI officials to
the US was an initiative by the Embassy, which worked in close
collaboration with the Sri Lanka Consulate in Los Angeles and
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri
Lanka to the United Nations in New York. The Embassy is also planning
to form a U.S.-Sri Lanka Business Council to promote mutually
beneficial trade and investment links between the two countries.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
31 July 2009