At a panel discussion held during the Sri Lanka Pakistan Trade and Investment Forum organized by the Federation of Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (FCCSL) BOI Chairman Upul Jayasuriya briefed Pakistani entrepreneurs on the new attractive investment climate of Sri Lanka.
Jayasuriya spoke of the very close relations between the two countries. Pakistan had assisted to Sri Lanka on many occasions in the history of the relations between two countries. During the conflict Pakistan had provided valuable training and assistance to the country and it could be said that “A friend in need is a friend indeed”.
Sri Lanka has just successfully conducted a General Election and “democracy was practiced at its peak”. Currently the entire world has held its hands in support of Sri Lanka, and this has led to accusations against the country fading away.
On the economic front Sri Lanka has embarked in further economic liberalization which was originally inspired by the country’s mentor, the late Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew. In fact Sri Lanka had been a pioneer in the area of economically liberalization, ahead of India but had unfortunately been unable to take full advantage of this policy due to the domestic conflict. The country was now embarking on creating a new liberalized regime where the investment climate will be characterized by the rule of law and an equal level playing field for all investors.
This would improve considerably Sri Lanka’s position in the ease of doing business index. Sri Lanka’s additional strength was according, to Jayasuriya that “the country is a virgin market” where there are still many opportunities remaining for investors because development had been stalled during the conflict years. Among the attractions of Sri Lanka is the competitive price for lands when compared to some of the other Asian countries.
A very good example was that of a Swiss company that makes sensors for vehicles and other type of machinery that was able to start their operations in just 4 months. This was done purely through the BOI processes, which means that the systems are already in place to ensure that investors can start operations easily in Sri Lanka.
In addition the Chairman added that another one of Sri Lanka’s strengths is the excellent coordination that exists between all state agencies such as customs, Immigration and the Exchange Control Departments and other areas of government. He invited Pakistani enterprises to visit BOI for further information and invited them to consider a visit to one of the BOI Export Processing Zones (EPZ). BOI had in fact since organized such a visit to the EPZ at Biyagama for the visiting Pakistani Business delegation.
Jayasuriya concluded by assuring the Pakistani investors that Sri Lanka will provide with them a liberalized regime with relaxed exchange control laws and constitutional protection accorded. Sri Lanka is also an excellent strategic base of operations to export to South Asia, East Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Another speaker at the panel discussion was Mrs. Sonali Wijeratne, Director General, Department of Commerce who described Sri Lanka’s future Free Trade Agreements such as GSP + Agreement with the European Union and the Sri Lanka China Free Trade Agreement. Once these are in place Sri Lanka would be well integrated into Asian and global Economic Systems.
Mr. Bandula Egodage, Chairman of the Export Development Board (EDB) spoke on the need for Sri Lanka to focus on the production of manufactured goods and welcomed high technology manufacture by Pakistani Companies in Sri Lanka. (Media Release)