On 7th September 2022, an Interactive Session on business opportunities and experience sharing between Sri Lanka and Korea was organised by the Sri Lanka-Korea Business Council at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. This special event was held with the participation of the Korean Ambassador Santhush Woonjin JEONG as Chief Guest, Priyantha Mendis President of the Sri Lanka-Korea Business Council, Suresh De Mel Chairman of Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Dr. Saj U. Mendis Former Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Korea and Renuka Weerakone Director General of Board of Investment of Sri Lanka.
Priyantha Mendis, President of the Sri Lanka-Korea Business Council thanked the Korean government for the steadfast efforts to strengthen the two countries’ relations, including the recent increase in the employment quota allocated for Sri Lanka this year. He also appreciated the continuous support of the Korean Ambassador Santhush Woonjin JEONG to promote bilateral economic cooperation.
Addressing the gathering, Korean Envoy Santhush Woonjin JEONG said, ‘‘I congratulate the Sri Lanka-Korea Business Council for celebrating the 40th anniversary since its establishment this year. I appreciate your commitment to promote stronger economic cooperation between our two countries. Knowledge sharing is a key objective of Korea’s international cooperation. Korea has considered Sri Lanka as a principal ODA partner country and has continuously engaged with Sri Lanka to share knowledge and development experiences of Korea. Korea and Sri Lanka share similar outward oriented, export-led industrialization policies. Korea has invested in fostering high value-added manufacturing industries and improving the Research and Development capabilities. Korea’s bilateral trade and investment with other countries including Sri Lanka has also played a vital role in economic development in Korea. It is an opportune moment for Korea and Sri Lanka to deepen and widen exchanges, learn from each other’s experiences and intensify mutually beneficial trade and FDIs. ”
In order to attract more Korean investment to Sri Lanka, Ambassador Santhush further emphasised the importance of dynamic engagement and consultation with the Korean businessmen in Sri Lanka, who have played a key role in bilateral economic cooperation for a long period of time. Their experiences and constructive feedback will be instrumental to assess ways to improve and attract more investment. Also, long-term visa issuance based not only on the amount of investment, but also on the duration of these Korean investors would support them to conduct their economic activities smoothly and intensify bilateral investment. Their good experiences in investing and doing business in Sri Lanka will result in the promotion of Sri Lanka as an investor-friendly destination for potential Korean businesspersons.
The Korean Embassy together with the Sri Lanka-Korea Business Council has been geared to facilitate trade and investment opportunities between Sri Lanka and Korea. In the same vein, this interactive session was seminal to discuss opportunities to attract investors from Korea to Sri Lanka, explore new alliances and also strengthen existing bilateral and commercial ties in the current economic situation.
During the session, Renuka Weerakone Director General of the Board of Investment outlined the incentives for attracting investments to Sri Lanka, given the strategic location and qualified human resources available in Sri Lanka. The Board of Investment is the prime investor-matchmaking and facilitation centre of Sri Lanka and is responsible for promoting more opportunities for potential investors. She elaborated on the existing conducive investment policy and enhanced market access which can be beneficial for potential Korean investors.
Suresh De Mel Chairman of Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) focused on ways to gain access to the Korean market. ‘‘As Korean consumers are price and quality conscious, Sri Lankan entrepreneurs should be more agile and explore new business networks by diversifying export products for the specific market.” He also thanked the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for providing training programmes focused on capacity building for EDB. This year, 28 officers of EDB will receive capacity building training in Korea, funded by KOICA. The program is an example of the longstanding partnership between the Korea and Sri Lanka to support Sri Lanka’s development journey.
Dr. Saj U. Mendis, Additional Secretary of Foreign Ministry and Former Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Korea also stressed that ‘‘Korea is known as the most innovative country in the world and Sri Lanka should explore more outsourcing opportunities. Sri Lanka can emulate the development trajectory of Korea, known as the ‘Miracle on the Han River.’ Sri Lanka could also be known as the country of the ‘Miracle on the Kelani River.” He thanked the Korean government for the solidarity and support extended during the COVID-19 pandemic by handing over numerous medical items including PCR test kits to Sri Lanka.
This event included an interactive Q and A session for participants resolve their questions and network with stakeholders. The session was fruitful to learn of new avenues to strengthen Korea-Sri Lanka trade and investment collaborations.
The session hosted 70+ business owners and investors who are keen to pursue commercial ventures between Korea and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka-Korea Business Council members including Vice President Shamil Mendis, Immediate Past President Mahen Kariyawasam, Founder President Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala, Kwak Hong Kyu Chairman of Korean Businessmen’s Association, Byun Seong Cheol Chairman of Korean Residents Association, Son Joo Hong Country Director of KOTRA, Kim Myung Jin Country Director of KOICA and Miyeon Lim First Secretary of the Korean Embassy also participated in the session.