A meeting was held recently between the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Export Development Board, to explore areas of co-operation between the two key economic agencies and work closer towards achieving the nation’s economic goals. Both institutions now come under the Ministry of Development strategies and International Trade headed by Minister Hon. Malik Samarawickrama and State Minister Hon. Sujeewa Senasinghe. The BOI delegation was headed by Mr. Upul Jayasuriya the Chairman, assisted by Mr. Duminda Ariyasinghe, Director General and a number of Senior Officials of the BOI. The EDB side was led by Ms. Indira Malwatte, Chairperson, assisted by Ms. Jeewani Siriwardane, Additional Director General – Development and several senior EDB Officers.
The two institutions were in agreement there is a very strong economic connection between investments and exports of the country. Hence it was vital that they work very closely to achieve benefits for the country in their two respective areas. For example the successful attraction of Foreign Direct Investment into the country will also result in enhancing the country’s export earnings by the arrival of export earning enterprises. This in turn leads to wealth creation and employment generation which is a common goal of both agencies.
Currently both agencies are working very closely in the management and facilitation of the World Economic Development Forum (WEDF) which will be held in October this year. The co-ordination in Sri Lanka of this important international conference has been done by the Chairperson of the Export Development Board. However, some senior BOI officials are also actively engaged in some of the co-ordination committees of the conference with EDB staff, together with representatives of other state agencies and Chambers of Commerce, to ensure that this event will be successful and result in considerable economic benefits to the country.
The co-operation between the two agencies is also a reflection of the new economic orientation of the Government in terms of attraction of investment. In the past BOI was to some extent, focusing on attracting projects in real estate and infrastructure development. However, a new emphasis has been accorded to manufacturing. In the case of the EDB manufacturing has always been the main focus, hence in this respect two agencies will be complimenting each other in developing and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Sri Lanka.
One aspect of manufacturing which was discussed by the senior officers of the BOI and the EDB was Boat and Yacht building. Since Sri Lanka is an Island and already has a dynamic local Boatbuilding industry, this sector has been identified as an area of manufacturing that offers considerable prospects for future expansion. At the same time as the World Economic Forum, Sri Lanka will be holding its Boat Show where local companies will be able to showcase to foreign visitors the manufacturing capacity of the country in the boat building sector.
There was an agreement that the infrastructure around Yacht Building also needs to be developed including the construction of several marinas to make the Island an interesting and attractive yachting destination. The BOI officials confirmed that they are currently evaluating several project proposals to build marinas in the Island.
The two agencies also discussed promoting in Sri Lanka, the Automobile components manufacturing industry which would supply automobile parts to manufacturers overseas. Several overseas enterprises had shown interest in this particular sector. Sri Lanka should therefore take action to develop this industry and be in a position to supply both local and foreign clients.
The other area discussed was the pharmaceutical sector and the steps that need to be taken to build up a pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in the country. Both sides also examined the question of developing a research capability in the Island which would lead to investments where knowledge and technology could be developed in the country.
Hence the two agencies agreed that they will approach leading research institutions in Sri Lanka with the view of developing value added products particularly in areas such as tea, rice and other foods products.
The meeting between the two agencies is a significant step towards a very promising co-operation between the BOI and the EDB to ensure that both Sri Lanka’s investment promotion and facilitation effort as well as export strategies work in tandem to ensure better performance and greater benefits and opportunities in the country. (Media Release)