64th LBR LBO CEO FORUM – “Economic Diplomacy and What it Means to the Private Sector” – 21st October 2015

64th LBR LBO CEO Forum

Topic: Economic Diplomacy and What it Means to the Private Sector
Date/Time: Wednesday 21st October | 1800 – 2100 Hrs
Keynote Speaker: Harsha De Silva, M.P. [Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs]
Session Chair: Anushka Wijesinha [Chief Economist – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce]
Panelists: His Excellency James Dauris [British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka & Maldives]
Malik J Fernando [Director: MJF Group/ Dilmah Tea / Resplendent Ceylon]
Hanif Yusoof [Chairman: Expolanka Holdings]
Alexis Lovell MBE [Chairman | National Asset Management Limited | UB Finance]
Venue: Grand Ballroom 1 and 2, Colombo Hilton
Host: Lakshaman Bandaranayake | Founder, Publisher | Lanka Business Online [LBR LBO]

To Join the Discussion, Post your Comments/Questions Text: 071 466 0060 | Twitter: @lbolbr | Facebook: Lanka Business Online | Use Hashtag: #64thlbrlboforum#lbrlbo, #lbrlboceoforum


If you wish to request an invitation to attend LBR LBO CEO FORUM, kindly fill the LBR LBO Invitation Request Form




It has often been said that foreign policy is economic policy, economic policy is foreign policy. Given the context of present debt, deficit and many other development and economic challenges, it’s never been more important to ensure that economic outcomes are a top priority of Sri Lanka’s international efforts and statecraft.

Economic diplomacy is an overarching principle that puts strong economic outcomes at the center of a country’s foreign, trade, investment and tourism policies. If the goal of traditional diplomacy is peace, then the goal of economic diplomacy is peace and prosperity. Economic diplomacy thus will play a pivotal role in building a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka.

Economic diplomacy is defined as “the process through which countries tackle the outside world, to maximize their national gain in all the fields of activity including trade, investment and other forms of economically beneficial exchanges, where they enjoy comparative advantage. It has bilateral, regional and multilateral dimensions, each of which is important.”

An effective economic-diplomacy policy requires cooperation between the government and the private sector. However, in the recent past, “state-business” relations in Sri Lanka has not always been harmonious and aligned with national interests. And characterized by a certain level of mistrust by the corporate sector and questionable engagements between business sector and powerful political players and super bureaucrats. Moving forward, to gain best benefits from economic diplomacy initiatives, efforts suld be made by both the government and the private sector to form stronger and closer alliance among all the stakeholders.


5.30 Onwards Arrival of invitees
6.10 – 6.20 Welcome remarks Messages from sponsors Brief opening remarks
6.20 – 7.25 Chair of the Forum makes brief remarks and invite keynote speaker to make his brief presentation
6.25 – 8.00 Moderated discussion/Q&A
8.00 – 8.05 Closing remarks
Until 9.30 Fellowship


Dr. Harsha De Silva, M.P. - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs


Dr Harsha de Silva, MP is a Sri Lankan economist and politician. A current member of Parliament of Sri Lanka, he is the current Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the former deputy minister of Policy Planning and Economic Development in the 100 day government. He has gained lime light as a media personality hosting several talk shows relating to development and international matters. In the recent years he voiced his opposition to the economic policies of the previous government.

Educated at Royal College Colombo, he gained his BS in Business Management from Truman State University in 1988 and went on to complete his MA and PhD in Economics at the University of Missouri in 1993. He has also participated for an executive program on evaluating social programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 as an Eisenhower Fellow.

As an economist he worked for the DFCC Bank, going on to become its chief economist and treasurer. Thereafter he was the co-founder and Joint Managing Director of The Nielsen Company.

Anushka Wijesinha, Chief Economist - The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce


Anushka is an economist and policy advisor, currently consulting with several international agencies including the World Bank and GIZ. He has published extensively in local and international publications, and government, multilateral, and private sector institutions regularly seek his insights.

Anushka was formerly Research Economist at the Institute of Policy Studies, where he headed the Industry, Competitiveness and Regulatory Policy Unit. He previously worked with the Presidential Commission on Taxation (2009-10), as Assistant Director of the Economic Affairs Division of the Peace Secretariat (2009), and the World Bank (2006 and 2007).

His Excellency James Dauris - British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka & Maldives


Mr James Dauris has been appointed British High Commissioner to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and British High Commissioner to the Republic of Maldives in succession to Mr John Rankin, who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Mr Dauris will take up his appointment at the beginning of April 2015.

Mr Dauris joined the FCO in 1995 and served most recently as British Ambassador to Peru for four years. During his career with the Foreign Office he has worked in London on South Asian, European Union and other issues and has served overseas in Russia and in Colombia. Mr Dauris worked as a solicitor in the City for a number of years before joining the FCO.

Malik J Fernando - Director: MJF Group/ Dilmah Tea / Resplendent Ceylon


Malik belongs to the second generation of a tea growing and marketing tradition founded by his father Merrill J. Fernando. Today, Malik and his brother are taking Dilmah to new heights maintaining the same family values, which were imbibed by their father.

MJFGroup focuses on global brand marketing of Ceylon Tea under the premium Dilmah brand, launched in 1985.Dilmah offers only the finest products to consumers around the world and the Group shares their success with the community and its workers. Malik had his secondary education at Stonyhurst College, UK. He obtained a Bsc in Management from Babson College,Wellesley USA.

Hanif Yusoof - Chairman: Expolanka Holdings


Hanif Yusoof is an Executive Director and the Chief Executive Officer of the Group. In addition to being one of the founding members, he has been a cornerstone in building and expanding the Freight & Logistics sectors of the Company. He has served as President of the Freight Forwarders Association of Sri Lanka in addition to being on the UN/ESCAP panel of trainers for freight forwarding. His enterprising nature has led him to be well admired and he was the recipient of the ‘Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Special Achievement Award’ by Enterprise Asia in 2013.

His other achievements include being awarded for ‘Global Commerce Excellence’ in light of contributions to the Sri Lankan economy by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in 2012 and receiving the “The Outstanding Young Persons – TOYP Award” in 1998. In 2013, he was among those 10 individuals recognised by LMD magazine in their coverage of ‘Business People of the Year’.

Alexis Lovell MBE - Chairman | National Asset Management Limited | UB Finance


Mr. Alexis Indrajith Lovell, MBE, serves as the Chairman of National Asset Management Limited and UB Finance Co. Ltd. Mr. Lovell has over thirty years of experience in Finance and Investment Banking. He served as the Chairman of Union Bank of Colombo Plc from May 1, 2012 to November 19, 2014. He has been Deputy Chairman of Union Bank of Colombo Plc since November 19, 2014 and has been its Non Independent Non Executive Director since September 28, 2007. He served as Deputy Chairman of Union Bank Of Colombo Limited from 2010 to May 1, 2012. He has been a Director of Associated Electrical Corporation Ltd. since December 8, 2008.

He served as an Independent Non-Executive Director of Sathosa Motors Plc since June 8, 2012 until September 01, 2014. He served as a Non Executive Independent Director of Access Engineering Plc since July 1, 2011. He was awarded the MBE (Most Distinguished Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen of England for services to Investment Banking. Mr. Lovell is a Chartered Management Accountant, UK. He holds a Post Graduate Degree in Business Administration.