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Optimism among Swedish companies doing business with Sri Lanka

Press release, Stockholm, 7 April 2021

Growth over the past five years, negative development in 2020 and optimism for 2021. These are some of the key takeaways from the Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council's membership survey for 2021. Among the members' most prioritized issues are simplified visa rules to Sri Lanka and to Sweden, increased attention for Sri Lanka from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and continued stable cost development.

The survey confirms our assumption that Swedish companies operating in Sri Lanka or trade with the country have done well for several years. To realize the existing potential for continued development, the obstacles need to be cleared. It is our top priority for 2021 to support our members and to develop the relations even further between our two countries, says Jan Campbell, Chairman of SSLBC.

The membership survey was conducted in February 2021. In total, it was answered by 50 percent of the members. Among the respondents are companies active in IT, manufacturing, trade, food sector and tourism. Seven out of ten have been operating in or with Sri Lanka for at least three years.

Seven out of ten (71 percent) answer that their business in or with Sri Lanka has grown over the past five years. The pandemic has affected the members but in different ways. Seven out of ten (69 per cent) answer that 2020 has meant a negative development, while two out of ten (19 per cent) answer that it has been positive. At the same time, optimism is felt among the members ahead of 2021. Seven out of ten (69 percent) estimate that operations in or with Sri Lanka will develop positively or remain unchanged.

Members were also asked to describe what their top priority issues for operations in or with Sri Lanka are in 2021. The answers have been grouped by main areas:

Simplified visa and quarantine rules Several describe a need for simplified visa rules, both to Sri Lanka and to Sweden for their Sri Lankan business partners. When the survey was carried out, the quarantine rules still constituted a major obstacle to business visits.

Continued attractive cost level Several members emphasize the importance of Sri Lanka's competitive cost level. In addition, the importance of economic stability is mentioned.

Good flight connections and logistics The importance of good flight connections and functioning logistics as the country opens up is also highlighted.

Access to qualified staff – Another area emphasized by the members as a priority for 2021 is access to Sri Lanka’s qualified staff.

The long-awaited return of tourists Even though most members are not active in the hospitality industry, the return of tourists is still mentioned as important by many.

Strengthened Swedish representation in Colombo is requested An important ingredient in taking advantage of the existing potentials, the members also believe is that the Swedish embassy in Colombo should be reopened. The embassy was closed in 2009 and Sri Lanka is since monitored by the Swedish embassy in New Dehli with the support of the Honorary Consul General, Otara Gunawardane in Colombo.

Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council (www.sslbc.se) was founded in 2006 and has about 60 members. The members are active in IT, manufacturing, consumer goods and food as well as tourism. In total, members create 3,100 jobs in Sri Lanka, directly and indirectly.

SSLBC's purpose is to promote trade, friendship, goodwill and understanding between Sweden and Sri Lanka through personal networks and contacts SSLBC strives to facilitate relations between relevant trade organizations, business intermediaries and companies in both countries to stimulate business and trade between Sweden and Sri Lanka.

SSLBC can be contacted via Secretary General Leif Ivan Ohlson

email: sec.gen@sslbc.se

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