Published on DailyFT
Top diplomats, investors and economists recently echoed that commercial cooperation, development and partnership links with the European Union (EU) has immensely helped to develop Sri Lanka’s economy.
“Needless to say, the EU representing 27 countries as a regional block is of paramount importance to Sri Lanka for economic development,” Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Brussels, Luxembourg and the Mission to EU Grace Asirwatham said at the session focused on investments from the EU at the recently concluded ‘Sri Lanka Investor Forum’.
The session was organised by the Board of Investment (BOI) in collaboration with the European Chamber of Commerce.
She said Sri Lanka treats investors as the most welcome partners whilst highlighting strong fundamentals, regulatory support, investment protection, investment incentive framework and everything that an investor is looking for in a country.
The Ambassador called on all prospective and existing investors from the EU to make the best of the exclusive EU-Sri Lanka Investor facilitation forum to iron out issues related to the relevant State agencies.
EU Delegation in Colombo Chargé d’Affaires Thorsten Bargfrede emphasised the importance of policy consistency and unhindered trade, noting that the EU is still one of the biggest markets in the world and a key export market for Sri Lanka.
He also highlighted the EU’s close partnership with Sri Lanka and the benefits of the country’s open economy policy which has been a key factor in bringing both economies together.
In addition, Bargfrede focused on the importance of the green economy, which is a priority for the EU and invited investors to participate in this initiative.
The session also featured a panel discussion moderated by EU Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka Director and In-House Legal Counsel John Wilson, with four leading European Investors representing priority markets. They were Calzedonia subsidiary Omega Line, represented by Managing Director Felix Fernando; Decathlon France CEO Melis Kurtylmaz; J Cortes subsidiary United Tobacco Processing Chairman Fred Vandemarliere; and Global Sports Lanka Ltd. Director/COO Suresan Arunachalam.
The panellists shared key insights of their operational experiences from Sri Lanka, elaborating on their challenges, success stories which included reinvestment and expansion initiatives in the country.
Logistical advantages, high-quality production ethics, a good level of technical know-how and compliance, an educated workforce at relatively low wages were key strengths echoed by the panellists in selecting Sri Lanka as a manufacturing base.
Verite Research Director Dr. Nishan de Mel made a presentation on macroeconomic outlook and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and stressed the efficient management of debt sustainability in Sri Lanka.