AMBASSADOR SUBASINGHE INAUGURATES SEMINAR
SERIES ORGANIZED BY THE ASHLAND INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS INITIATIVE,
Speaks on "Business Opportunities in Sri
Visits Limited Brands in Columbus, Ohio
Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the
United States and Mexico, was the first speaker at the seminar
series sponsored by the Ashland International Business Initiative,
a partnership between the Ashland University and Ashland Economic
Development. The seminar series is an important component of the
overall Regional International Export Program of the State of
Ohio and, Ashland University is significantly involved in promoting
the program. Previous speakers at the University have included
Presidents Reagan and Bush and, Prime Ministers Thatcher and Netanyahu.
The seminars will be presented on a quarterly basis and will cover
countries such as, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, Costa Rica, Peru,
Hungary and Georgia.
In his presentation entitled, "Business Opportunities in
Sri Lanka," the Ambassador provided a profile of the country's
increasing trade and economic relations with the U.S.A., Sri Lanka's
business climate and it's investment incentives. Providing insights
into the country's improving economy, the Ambassador mentioned
that the economic prospects were strengthened in 2003 by increased
economic growth, higher levels of investment, tourism arrivals
and lower inflation.
Speaking to the Ohio business community, Ambassador Subasinghe
emphasized the benefits that communities of all sizes such as,
Ashland and Sri Lanka, could reap by reaching out to markets beyond
their local environs. The Ambassador said, "while it's important
to be grounded locally, communities of all sizes must look outward
to the opportunities beyond their corners of the world. Opportunities
for communities of all sizes to benefit from globalization are
Showcasing Sri Lanka's special appeal for foreign investors,
Ambassador Subasinghe highlighted the fifteen year old robust
association that the US apparel giant, the Columbus (Ohio) based
Limited Brands, Inc., has with Sri Lanka. He mentioned that Sri
Lanka is an important sourcing destination for world class apparel
and that Victoria's Secret sourced over US$350 million worth of
merchandise from Sri Lanka in 2003. Further discussing business
opportunities for Ohio businesses in Sri Lanka, the Ambassador
mentioned that the range of export items from Ohio could include
everything from agricultural products such as wheat and grains
and soybeans to paper and paper board to computers.
Ambassador Subasinghe's visit to Ohio underscores the business
promotion activities of the Embassy aimed at broadening and deepening
the Sri Lanka-US trade and investment relationship. While in Ohio,
Ambassador Subasinghe met with executives at the Headquarters
of Limited Brands Inc. in Columbus and was hosted by the Ashland
Mayor William Strine and the City Council.
Ambassador Subasinghe invited the Ashland business community
to establish a mutually beneficial partnership with Sri Lanka
by availing of the investment opportunities currently available
in Sri Lanka. In particular, the Ambassador highlighted Sri Lanka's
need for contractors or foreign companies to help build the country's
water plants, roads, airports and invest in other available infrastructure
Trade relations between Ohio and Sri Lanka are over 50 years
old. Rubber products manufacturers in Ohio have been importing
natural rubber from Sri Lanka for their products, in particular,
for the manufacture of tyres, which was amply evident from the
visit of the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Sir John Kotalawala,
to the Firestone Tyre Factory in Akron, Ohio in 1954.
Fifty years later, Sri Lanka has a diversified export relationship
with Ohio. In addition to the apparel and garment sector, Sri
Lankan rubber and rubber products are consumed by Ohio industry.
Abbott Laboratories' Hospital Products Division's Ashland facility
employing 600 workers, imports Sri Lankan rubber for its products.
Prospective Ashland area exports to Sri Lanka include agricultural
products, medical rubber products, industrial machinery, paper
and paper board. The Gorman-Rupp Pumps in Ohio exports pumps to
Sri Lanka. A Sri Lankan business delegation in the crape rubber
sector visited Cleveland and Akron in 2003.
President of the Ashland University, Dr. William Benz said, "There
are great advantages in working together. This is the first step.
This is the first chapter in developing those partnerships."
here for the picture gallery
here for the power point presentation
Embassy of Sri Lanka
21 January 2004