NEWS & EVENTS

NEWS & EVENTS

Thumbs up for trade!

Companies from Australia, France, Thailand, Switzerland, Pakistan and India had expressed interest in investing and starting joint ventures with Sri Lankan companies at the conclusion of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) yesterday, which gave special focus to SMEs and fostering direct engagement between businesses, officials said yesterday.

The companies focused on several sectors including apparel, organic coconuts and spices, hotel building and business process outsourcing. These were the concrete engagements that were announced by the International Trade Centre (ITC) that was the main organiser of WEDF. ITC will track the gains made from the forum but insisted that it was the crucial opportunities given to companies to export from the conference that was more important than numbers.

“Many other business decisions would likely be made over the next few months or even longer. This was an opportunity for them to meet and relationships can be forged over a longer time for many of them,” International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director Arancha González told reporters at the end of the forum adding that Sri Lanka has great potential for south-south trade given the trade policies adopted by the Government.

“Breaking into exports for smaller companies is as important as the final investment. A study of 200 companies done by ITC has shown that over the last six years 56% of those companies have both increased and diversified their exports. For a small company even $ 100,000 or $ 200,000 in exports is a landmark improvement,” she noted.

The event also received a massive thumbs up from the private sector for including their input, which they claimed was the first such effort by successive Governments.

“This is the first time that a Government has included us in a forum of this nature even though we have been asking them for such an opportunity over many previous years,” said Exporters Association of Sri Lanka Chairman Fazal Mushin.

“We drove this team and wanted to put the best of Sri Lanka before the world. Previously we were never heard. We were told. We want to be involved because this is about our survival and we want to take ownership of this process. We are greatly encouraged by the open door policy of the Government,” he added.

State Minister for International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe was upbeat about the opportunities before Sri Lanka and reiterated statements by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the Government would roll out significant investment projects once it had set the policy foundation right.

“We wanted to open up engagement within the private sector. Our aim is to increase export earnings from the current $ 11 million to $ 16 million over the next few years, which is a very ambitious goal. We are working with ITC to create 2,000 new exporters. We have been pledged about $ 3 billion by China for various projects over the next three years and there are several other countries interested as well. So we should see a significant increase in investment at the end of next year,” the State Minister said.

ITC is the joint agency of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the World Trade Organization. The forum was billed as one of the largest trade promotions forums to date with hundreds of local and foreign companies participating in nearly 3,000 ‘speed dating’ sessions during the two days.

This is the first time Sri Lanka is hosting an event of this stature, and the resulting export opportunities are expected to be hugely beneficial to the economic development of the country, organisers said. The forum facilitates international trade and provides a platform for open discussions on the most pressing trade issues and challenges faced across the world, especially those in developing countries.

The Government is responsible for making trade possible, especially negotiating trade agreements and improving the business environment, the Executive Director pointed out, insisting that reforms to encourage exports had happened over the last six years. She stressed that the ITC had seen “significant progress” under the current Government.

The ITC in a Survey of Business in 2010 interviewed 500 Sri Lankan companies and conducted in-depth studies on 200 of them, across sectors and sizes, across the country. Six years later it was redone with a smaller number of those same companies to track changes and 56% of those companies that were polled in both in 2010 and 2016 said the business environment had improved, she noted.

The two-day event, which was held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), was themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change.’

The 16th edition of the conference was organised by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and was co-hosted by the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, with the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB).

President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister of Development and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama led the line-up of high-profile speakers.

The conference featured 497 registered foreign participants and 320 local participants. From the total of 51 speakers and moderators, 39 were international speakers. The culmination of the assembly of policymakers, trade experts, trade analysts and business leaders from across the world would be to expedite export, business and partnership opportunities for Sri Lanka.

source from Daily FT


SheTrades rings message of entrepreneurship

A bell ringing ceremony was held at Colombo Stock Exchange yesterday to raise awareness about International Trade Centre’s (ITC) ‘SheTrades’ initiative, which seeks to connect one million women entrepreneurs to markets by 2020.

The event was held in parallel with the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), organised by ITC in collaboration with Sri Lanka Export Development Board.

Through the ‘SheTrades’ initiative, women entrepreneurs will have the ability to share information about their companies, to make them visible, expand networks, connect and internationalise.

Speaking at the event, ITC Executive Director Arancha González said that women empowerment is an absolute must to achieving inclusive economic growth and development.

“SheTrades’ is all about empowering women economically.We always care about women in parliament. We must now turn our attention to the economy, because it is the economy that will change and anchor the education, healthcare, politics”.

Speaking on ITC’s involvement in relation to the women empowerment in Sri Lanka González said, ITC in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Exports Development Board and Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka have initiated a programme to connect women in Sri Lanka ,Kenya and Indonesia to international markets.

‘SheTrades’ is also a web and mobile app that helps women in business connect with buyers, share experiences and conclude business deals. The initiative’s Call to Action spells out seven global actions in which governments, the private sector, and civil society groups can make concrete pledges to remedy obstacles holding back women-owned businesses.

source from Daily News


Sri Lanka is ready for business

To achieve strong growth Sri Lanka has put in place a multifaceted framework to encourage business and get access to key markets around the world, said a top official at an international forum this week.

The entire spectrum of economic changes planned by the Government to boost growth was outlined by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama at the inauguration of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) on Wednesday. Given below is the full speech delivered by the Minister.

It is a great pleasure indeed to welcome all participants to the 16th World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016, and at the outset permit me to thank the individuals and institutions whose untiring efforts have enabled this forum to take place in Sri Lanka.

A special word of thanks to the energetic Executive Director of ITC, Madam Arancha Gonzalez, for bringing this event to Sri Lanka and guiding our team.

WEDF is a unique global conference and business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking platform dedicated to supporting trade-led development. As the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), WEDF brings together over 600 business leaders, policymakers, heads of trade and investment, support institutions and international trade development officials to address international competitiveness for developing countries.

Sri Lanka’s economy has witnessed a steady revival in growth during the past few months, with the country venturing into new avenues of commodity and service monetisation. The new Government has brought in freedom, democracy and transparency and with this given a message of assurance to the international business community.

The decision by the ITC to hold the WEDF 2016 in Sri Lanka itself is a clear message that we are on the right path, symbolising the international recognition for the business environment that we have built. Let me also mention that in Sri Lanka, we now have a very stable Government with two major political parties – the SLFP led by Maithripala Sirisena and the UNP led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, forming a National Unity Government, are undertaking major reforms to fast-track development in our country.

We are also in the process of implementing a series of reforms to uplift the country’s trade and investment performance. This includes ‘Ease of Doing Business’.

New trade policy

A new trade policy framework is being formulated, which focuses on reducing the anti-export bias in our policies. Para tariffs are being reviewed and the Central Bank will manage the exchange rate flexibility while avoiding high volatility. These reforms are being complemented by improved trade facilitation, which will enable Sri Lanka to capitalise on its strategic geographic location and excellent port facilities to become a manufacturing, distribution and logistics hub.

The global trading environment is changing rapidly with global production networks and global value chains. The developments are a result of product fragmentation; cross border dispersion of component production/assembly. Each country specialises in a particular stage of production sequence and trade the value added components which ultimately results in the final product.

Product fragmentation was first seen in apparel and electronics and now it has spread to automobiles, electrical machinery, telecommunications, etc.

The factors that have led to product fragmentation are the rapid advancement in production technology, technology innovation in communication and transportation and liberalisation of policy reforms in investment and services both at home and host countries.

Export growth can no longer depend on traditional export markets such as the US and the EU, where demand is slack. Therefore, it is imperative that Sri Lanka find new markets and curve out easy market access to them. That is why the Government has embarked on a strategy to deepen the existing FTAs with India and Pakistan and work out new FTAs with growing Asian economies like China and Singapore.

Sri Lanka is currently at a juncture where it can no longer depend on debt-financed development. Thus a viable development strategy that will bring in more foreign exchange to the country is needed via promoting exports and attracting FDIs.

For export promotion, FDI will support to enhance the supply capacity of export and make best use of the wider market access gained via FTAs. Making this transition from debt-financial public investment and import substitution, to a private sector-led export and FDI-based development strategy remains challenging. But it is the only option available for Sri Lanka at present.

If we look at South Asian countries in the SAARC, Sri Lanka is far behind others in working out duty free or preferential market access to other countries. In SAARC, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan by virtue of them being LDCs qualify for duty free access to the EU and Indian market through Everything But Arms (EBA). In fact 84% of SAARC LDC exports have duty free access to the world at large.

India has preferential market access to ASEAN, Japan and South Korea through various FTAs and CEPAs it has signed during the last decade. Pakistan has FDAs with China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and benefits from GSP+ in the EU market. In contrast Sri Lanka has access to only India and Pakistan and some preferential access to APTA members, China and Korea, for which Bangladesh and India also qualify.

Sri Lanka lags behind even its South Asian neighbours in having preferential markets access to its trading partners. When Sri Lanka’s standing in the global and regional framework is behind others, it becomes all the more important to sign more bilateral agreements.

Economic agreements

The world around us is increasingly moving forward with regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements, as the multilateral trade liberalisation process led by the WTO has come to a standstill. According to the WTO website, there are 419 regional trade agreements. Also 133 of them have been now converted into the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) or other forms of deeper economic agreements.

These agreements basically deepen and broaden the FTAs with selective reduction of the negative list and incorporating investment and services liberalisation. 50% of global trade now take place through regional or bilateral FTAs.

Within the broader framework of an agreement, which is inclusive of services and investment, it is easier to address the shortcomings of FTA. That is the reason for the rapid transition of FTAS to more comprehensive economic arrangements.

In the case of the India-Sri Lanka FTA, it is being broadened and deepened via the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) and that will certainly assist Sri Lanka to address many of the current problems it is facing in fully utilising the FTA.

ETCA can increase Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in industrial exports and also increase our supply capacity, to better utilise the market access to India. In addition, ETCA negotiations are addressing outstanding non-tariff barriers in the Indian market as well as many of the existing procedural barriers and delays in Indian ports of entry, particularly through Mutual Recognized Agreements.

We are also negotiating a new FTA with China and invigorating our existing FTA with Pakistan. Under the China FTA, we are focusing on apparel, tea, gems and jewellery, rubber products, coconuts and spices as key industries. We plan to include a priority tariff line for competitive Sri Lankan products that would go into immediate effect upon the signing of the agreement.

Sri Lanka’s agreements with Pakistan also provide an opportunity for Indian investors to access that market on a preferential basis by locating in Sri Lanka. We could explore the possibility of redirecting some of the Indo-Pakistan trade currently transmitting through Dubai.

We have also launched negotiations on a FTA with Singapore. This will open up the entire ASEAN market for Sri Lanka and will create opportunities for high tech innovative products to be exported to this region.

We are negotiating these agreements with an open mind but with the intention of getting the best possible deal for the country.

The Government of Sri Lanka is aware of the possible trade disruptions that can occur during the transition period and therefore we are looking at providing a trade adjustment package for local industrialists to upgrade machinery and introduce new technology so that these industries can be more competitive and serve the local market as well as export to the regional and global markets.

Before I finish, I should also point out that Sri Lanka has enormous potential as a tourism destination. Investment opportunities are considerable in this sector. Our Government is taking a number of positive measures to improve investor confidence, strengthen the business environment and make Sri Lanka an attractive destination for FDI.

Let me conclude by reiterating that the benefits of investing in Sri Lanka include its resilient economy, supportive Government policies, its educated workforce, strategic location, preferential access to large markets, fast developing infrastructure and increasingly vibrant business environment.

Sri Lanka is ready for business.

I urge all of you to take full advantage of this opportunity to network and form long-lasting partnerships. I wish all of you a fruitful and productive session.

Thank you.

source from Daily FT


Incentives for investors ahead: PM

The private sector is to get a major boost from sweeping new trade policies and incentives to be ushered in by the Government over the next few weeks and in Budget 2017, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday as he readied himself to fly to Brussels to engage with the European Union to reinstate GSP+ on Saturday.

Addressing international and local business representatives at the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) sessions on Wednesday, Wickremesinghe gave a detailed, clear but concise view of the Government’s policies and insisted it was essential to take the better part of a year to resolve conflict and sort out details to be ready for implementation in the latest Budget.

“On Saturday I am leaving Sri Lanka to Brussels for discussions on reinstating the GSP+ agreement but unlike in 2002 when growth depended on Europe, the shift is now coming to Asia. We are working on three important agreements with India, China and Singapore that will give us crucial market access,” he said.

The Economic Cooperation and Technical Agreement (ETCA) with India will enable Sri Lanka to have closer engagement with Sri Lanka’s neighbour, especially the five southern states, which together with India are the fastest growing segment of the Indian subcontinent and at the moment have a combined GDP of $ 500 billion, Wickremesinghe noted.

He also incisively recapped Sri Lanka’s post-independence history, pointing out that the country had lost trade advantages including GSP+ that were used by other countries to grow rapidly. As exports dwindled Sri Lanka also began to rely more on remittances and loan-driven growth, he observed, which ultimately failed to meet the aspirations of the people.

“We are negotiating another FTA with Singapore and they are receptive because they believe that Bay of Bengal countries will be fast-growing countries with fast-growing incomes in the next 20-30 years. Under the Chinese One Belt initiative with China we are also negotiating on a FTA and a comprehensive economic partnership dialogue with Japan. This way we are already assured access to key Asian and European markets, as to how the US will develop we will know after November but we have made the plans on how to increase market access.”

Wickremesinghe emphasised that while Sri Lanka was concentrating on market access on the one hand, it was also preparing to offer encouragement to local and international investors.

“Incentives will be announced soon for foreign direct investments and local investments to accelerate investments and one whole area that we will focus on and to give incentives for is the local manufacturing industry, to become competitive and grow. We have a fairly good manufacturing industry but they are catering to the domestic market but that will not create any more income. We have the potential to expand and grow into a nearby market because our local companies know regional markets. So we are planning to give incentives to get new machinery, get more people and expand,” he said.

The Tourism and the Digital Economy sectors are ready to take off but have to be underpinned by human resource development, he went onto say, adding that local workers today had expectations.

“They want $ 300 minimum per month, this is their expectation, there are many jobs below this line but they are not filled because people want more. We will be focusing on this aspect too, to make sure that we have a larger consumer market in Sri Lanka.”

“SMEs need to be helped to take up more employment that may not be able to be absorbed by larger companies. We are doing this because we want a better life for our people, to have a secure future, and the best way to do this is via exports.”

At a time when the global outlook is not unfavourable, Sri Lanka is working hard to deal with global trade headwinds and achieve growth, he insisted.

“We are a country where every billion dollars counts, our small size can be an advantage but it requires intense value addition. The first step was developing policies and with the Budget it will push people to perform better next year.”

AIIB in talks with Govt. to fund infrastructure

The Sri Lankan Government is in talks with the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to facilitate a variety of infrastructure projects including renewable energy, water management systems, highways and port development, an official said yesterday.

Participating in a panel discussion, AIIB Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Dr. D.J. Pandian said he had participated in discussions with top Government officials during his stay in Colombo this week. During the tenure of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka was a founding member of AIIB and the agreement was ratified by the new Government last year.

“AIIB is in discussions with Sri Lanka to facilitate infrastructure development. We are interested in providing finance for power development. They have offered us a hydro project but I told them look into renewables. If there is insufficient capacity AIIB is also interested in power grid funding. We are also looking at Kelani River flood mitigation to reduce losses. Mahaweli water management systems are also being looking at. We are also ready to finance highways, including the central highway, or Colombo Trincomalee highway and road links to the port city. We are focused on modern infrastructure,” he told the gathering.

Dr. Pandian was upbeat about Sri Lanka’s growth prospects and insisted that the country was an example of what could be achieved by linking to the China ‘One Road; One Belt’ initiative that would also attract support from AIIB.

In January 2016 Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a new international development bank seen as a rival to the US-led World Bank at a lavish ceremony on Saturday, as Beijing seeks to change the unwritten rules of global development finance.

Despite opposition from Washington, US allies including Australia, Britain, German, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea have agreed to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in recognition of China’s growing economic clout.

In order for Asia to continue to be the most dynamic region for global growth it needs to invest in infrastructure and connectivity. The AIIB is expected to lend $ 10 billion-$ 15 billion a year for the first five or six years and began operations in the second quarter of 2016.

In June AIIB approved $ 509 million in investments for its first four projects. Three of the four projects are co-financed with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The projects were power grid upgrades in Bangladesh, slum renovation in Indonesia and highway construction in Pakistan and Tajikistan.

source from Daily FT


Meeting for trade and growth

The World Export Development Forum (WEDF) facilitates international trade and provides a platform for open discussions on the most pressing trade issues and challenges faced across the world, especially those in developing countries. The two-day event, which is being held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), is themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’ and began yesterday. Hundreds of business representatives from local and international companies participated in the 16th edition of the conference, which is organised annually by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and is co-hosted this year by the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB)

– Pix by Upul Abayasekara and Lasantha Kumara

source from Daily FT


Time to make trade happen

Thumbs up for Sri Lanka! International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director Arancha González believes its crunch time for the country – Pic by Lasantha Kumara

By Uditha Jayasinghe

A robust trade agenda is essential for Sri Lanka to leapfrog competitors, believes International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director Arancha González, who is in Colombo to attend the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) sessions today that will also focus on SMEs and foster direct engagement between businesses.

ITC is the joint agency of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the World Trade Organization. Gonzalez is in Colombo this week to meet with key Government officials and attend the sessions of the WEDF on Wednesday and Thursday. The forum has been billed as one of the largest trade promotions forums to date with hundreds of local and foreign companies participating in nearly 3,000 "speed dating" sessions during the next two days.

"Sri Lanka has huge opportunities, a great location, a very committed Government to improve, attract and nurture investments as well as a productive labour force. This is what makes Sri Lanka an interesting place for investors," she told Daily FT.

"We want to support the efforts of this country, both the government and private sector, at using trade as an engine for growth, for job creation. This requires focusing on the business environment and competitiveness, but we believe that if you put the two together we have a very powerful ingredient to help this country catch up or even overtake countries in this region which, while this country was focused on internal affairs, moved very quickly forward."

The private sector was given a significant vote of confidence by Gonzalez, who was upbeat about both the companies' competitiveness and the adaptability of Sri Lanka's human resource.

"Now is the crucial time. There are expectations in this country that a more peaceful, united country can bring dividends to its people. We do believe that is the reality but to move from words to deeds there needs to be a very robust trade agenda. We strongly believe in the trade agenda, institutional dedication, but most of all we believe the business sector of this country is robust and deserves support precisely at this point in time."

The Government is responsible for making trade possible, especially negotiating trade agreements and improving the business environment, the Executive Director pointed out, insisting that reforms to encourage exports had happened over the last six years. She stressed that the ITC had seen "significant progress" under the current Government.

The ITC in a Survey of Business in 2010 interviewed 500 Sri Lankan companies and conducted in-depth studies on 200 of them, across sectors and sizes, across the country. Six years later it was redone with a smaller number of those same companies to track changes and 56% of those companies that were polled in both in 2010 and 2016 said the business environment had improved, she noted.

"This tells us their ability to export has improved because procedures and documentation can now be done online. Now of course there is still a list of things that needs to continue to be fixed but 56% shows that there has been progress. We have also found that about 55% of the small companies have diversified export markets and products because they have better information about how to access markets. It shows that access to intelligence, which was a big obstacle when we polled in 2010, has been addressed. So I see the bottle as half full and I think that deserves support.

"You still have to make trade happen. That is why this forum is about how to make trade possible. We are going to have a lot of discussions around regional agreements, standards and regulations, inclusive tourism, as well as a robust B2B program for tangible deals to materialise."

ITC will also roll out a plan funded by the European Union that seeks to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lanka's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The € 8 million program is set to improve the business environment, trade facilitation measures and focus on quality. The program will also focus on creating value chains in the agriculture and service sectors.

The slew of free trade agreements currently under negotiation with China, India, Singapore and other countries will give Sri Lanka access to a market of over two billion people but investors would still have to concentrate on niche, higher value addition products and services given Sri Lanka's comparatively smaller population, she cautioned.

Gonzales also advocated that all concerns on economic liberalisation had to form part of a dialogue that was not just limited to particular industries but was of a wider nature with stakeholders around the table that would represent all sectors in order to have a sound trade policy.

"If you don't have all these voices around the table you run the risk of trade policy getting captured by single interests. A country has to take into account collective interest."

She also called on the Government to establish its own standards on measuring ease of doing business but to monitor it diligently to ensure tangible progress would be felt by the private sector.

"My advice to the Government on this is to get their own matrix in place. Take their own matrix, establish a baseline and measure year after year the things that matter and use this to drive a process of internal reforms and be determined about them. I think what is important is to get a good sense of direction and to have a tool for measuring whether or not you are making progress. Maybe it is important to go granular in this measure, maybe it is important to pick the ten measurements that are important for Sri Lanka that may or may not coincide with the World Bank's but is important for Sri Lanka."

source from Daily FT


The much awaited World Export Development Forum 2016 kicks off

The globally anticipated and represented World Export Development Forum 2016 (WEDF 2016) begins in Colombo, Sri Lanka today. This is the first time Sri Lanka is hosting an event of this stature, and the resulting export opportunities are expected to be hugely beneficial to the economic development of the country. The forum facilitates international trade and provides a platform for open discussions on the most pressing trade issues and challenges faced across the world and especially in developing countries today. The two-day event being held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) is themed 'Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change'.

This is the 16th edition of the conference annually organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC), and is co-hosted this year by the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB). President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister of Development and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama will lead the line-up of high-profile speakers, which also includes Patricia Scotland – Secretary General of The Commonwealth Secretariat,Khurran Dastgir Khan – Pakistan's Minister of Commerce and many more.

A few event highlights; There are 497registered foreign participants and320 local participants. Of a number of 51 speakers and moderators in total, 39 are international speakers. The culmination of the coming together of policy makers, trade experts, trade analysts and business leaders from across the world will be the expedited export, business and partnership opportunities for Sri Lanka. These opportunities will be further established through the business-to-business (B2B) meetings, one of the main attractions of the conference. A total of 136 Sri Lankan companies have registered for the B2B meetings, with a total of 116 international buyers registered to participate. Other events have also been organized parallel to the forum to showcase Sri Lanka's export capabilities and the country's rebranding as a logistics hub.

"Months of planning and organizing with the support of both the private and public sectors has reaped great benefits for the event already," chairperson and Chief Executive of the EDB, Ms. Indira Malwatte stated. "We have orchestrated an event for all stakeholders in trade, to participate, discuss, debate, recommend, initiate and execute strategies and plans that will open more markets and reveal new trade avenues that we can capitalize on."

source from The Island


Women for equitable development

The World Export Development Forum (WEDF) begins in Colombo today to provide a stronger trade incentive to push forward growth in Sri Lanka and a significant facet of that is encouraging women to be part of the formal workforce.

As it is well known only about 34% of women are part of Sri Lanka's formal workforce even though women make up an estimated 52% of the country's workforce. Data from the Census and Statistics Department shows that unemployment rates are nearly double for women and significantly higher than the 4.2% national average. These numbers have remained consistent for many years showing the embedded structural anomaly in Sri Lanka's economy.

While successful on several development indicators, Sri Lanka has the 20th largest gender gap in labour force participation globally, which impedes the country's goals for growth and equity.

While Sri Lankan women are educated and live longer many do not work outside the home partly due to a skills mismatch – a disparity between the skills women attain and what the market demands or will pay for.

Clearly there is a deep need to empower women and increase their chances for employment and entrepreneurship, especially at the grassroots level. This is all the more relevant in the spheres of technology usage and financial inclusion. Less than a fifth of Sri Lankans use the internet, and only 10% of households have direct access, according to the World Bank. This means that women have less access to develop themselves and improve entrepreneurship skills.

An obvious gap in Sri Lanka's development toward a knowledge economy stems from the lack of university graduates, especially women who major in technical fields, the World Bank says. This also means fewer women are likely to take up technical vocational training and branch out into unconventional sectors.

The low female labour force participation in Sri Lanka has three key factors: Gender norms around household roles as women are responsible for household chores limiting access for outside employment; skills mismatch – a disparity between the skills women attain and what the market demands or will pay for; and gender bias – active and institutional gender discrimination, wage gaps, discriminatory work places and weaker job networks compared to male counterparts.

This also means fewer women would have to seek employment as migrant workers and would earn more from their trained skills.

For this transformation to take place the Government and policymakers have to incorporate ICT as well as gender and development into their existing programs. They would have to put in long-term plans to educate and equip women to learn skills that are not necessarily the norm bit would eventually become socially acceptable.

To help address low female labour force participation, the World Bank says civil society organisations can promote and advocate for women to access part time work, maternity leave and childcare services in an effort to eliminate associated stigma.

Also the private sector can help girls to identify and develop careers of their choice from an early age regardless of gender norms and restrictions and provide access to job information and placement services. Such focused policies would be needed to not just foster growth but make it more sustainable and they have to be supported by strong policies from the Government. In a country where women are sidelined, from parliament downwards, the biggest challenges are also the most obvious.

source from Daily FT


17 Malaysian companies on export acceleration mission to Colombo

Seventeen Malaysian companies will be in Colombo this week to explore investment opportunities on the sidelines of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF).

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) the export promotion agency of Malaysia will organise an Export Acceleration Mission (EAM) to Colombo, Sri Lanka from 11-14 October.

The companies consist of manufacturers of automotive products, building materials, detergents, electronic parking meters, electrical hardware and wiring accessories food and beverages, furniture, and service providers for engineering services and industrial automation system.

While in Colombo, the Malaysian companies will participate in World Export Development Forum (WEDF) at Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH). The second day sees MATRADE facilitating one-on-one business meetings between the Malaysian and Sri Lankan companies.

According to MATRADE Trade Commissioner for South Asia Zuaziezie Zulkefli, "This Export Acceleration Mission would give Sri Lankan companies the opportunity to meet manufacturers and service providers from Malaysia without having to travel to Malaysia.

I hope that Sri Lankan companies would take advantage of this opportunity by participating in our pre-arranged business meetings which will be held at Taj Samudra Hotel on 13 October. Sri Lankan companies who are yet to register, can walk in to the one-on-one business meeting program, and could arrange a meeting with these 17 Malaysian companies."

The objective of this mission is to create a platform for Malaysian companies to explore business opportunities available in Sri Lanka. This mission is also aimed to give Malaysian companies the opportunity to evaluate their industry's market potential, apart from making business deals with Sri Lankan companies. MATRADE envisions the export of Malaysian products and services to Sri Lanka could be improved via missions such as this Export Acceleration Mission.

In 2015, total bilateral trade between Malaysia and Sri Lanka is $ 570.90 million. Malaysia's total export to Sri Lanka stood at $ 481.4 million and Malaysia's imports from Sri Lanka in 2015 recorded an increase of 55.3% to $ 89.5 million from $ 57.6 million in 2014.

From Jan-July 2016, Malaysia's total bilateral trade with Sri Lanka is $ 352.1 million; an increase of 3.5% from $ 340 million compared with the same period in 2015.

Malaysia's major exports to Sri Lanka for Jan-July 2016 were palm oil, chemicals and petroleum products, chemical products, electrical and electronic products and machinery appliances which contribute about 63% of Malaysia's total export to Sri Lanka.

source from Daily FT


Sri lanka revving up to receive high-profile visitors for WEDF 2016

The 16th edition of the prestigious World Export Development Forum (WEDF) taking place on the 12th and 13th of October 2016 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is drawing in a significant number of international trade and business icons to the country. The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB)is organizing the 2-day globalconference, themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’.

A highlight of the global export industry calendar, the forum is being graced by H.E. Patricia Scotland – Secretary General of The Commonwealth Secretariat, Hon. Mr.Khurran Dastgir Khan – Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce, Hon. Mr. Wang Shouwen – Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce of China and Ms. Arancha Gonzalez – Executive Director of the ITC among many others, where they will address challenges in international trade, and solutions to overcoming them.

Among the global business leaders who will be participating at the summit is Mr. Vikrom Kromadit, Thailand’s biggest industrial-park developer. He is the Chief Executive Officer of the $500 million (market cap) publicly traded industrial-estate developer Amata. Kromadit founded Amata 17 years ago, a company that today controls 37% of the land developing market share in Thailand, more than twice its largest rival. Amata’s revenue for 2015 jumped by 48% to $116 million. ​

Amata, specializing in planning, developing, managing and marketing integrated industrial estates, has two parks in Thailand and one in Vietnam housing 574 factories, including large multinational corporations such as Toyota, Bridgestone, BMW Group, Nestle, Sony,Colgate-Palmolive, etc.These parks are referred to as ‘cities’,which also includes other facilities such as hospitals, restaurants and even golf courses.

Kromadit kicked off his career running his family farm, but then ventured out to start his own trading business. In 1988 he invested in 120 acres of Thailand’s eastern seaboard, and over the next five years had signed up companies from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea including Hitachi and Mitsubishi. He established his second park in HoChi Minh City, Vietnam in 1994 and a third one again in Thailand. He is currently working on the third instalment of an autobiographical self-help series.

Mr. Eben Sermon – Vice President for Greater Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at eBay Inc., will also be participating at the conference. Sermon signed an agreement on behalf of eBay with the ITC to help small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) take advantage of global digital commerce. eBay offers to give these companies advice, enabling them to reach a global market and better position their offering. It is in this context that Sermon is joining the ITC for WEDF 2016, in order to ensure that SMEs are aware of the support they can get, and the opportunity they now have to overcome trade barriers, and focus on trading digitally.​

Other notable dignitaries and business leaders include Hon. Mr. PéterSzijjártó - Minister of Foriegn Affiars & Trade and Dr. Petra Pana - Deputy State Secretary for Foreign Economic Affairs, both representing Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Dr. Mrs. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secreatary of The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dr. Mukisha Kituyi – Secreatary General for the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (CTAD), Mr. Tony Nash – CEO and Chief Economist of Complete Intelligence Singapore, Dr. Naushad Forbes – President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Mr. Stefano Arganese - CEO of Central Eastern Europe and Middle Europe for DHL, Mr.Hongbing Gao - VP of Alibaba Group and Director of AliResearch, Mr. D. J. Pandian – Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and Mr.WabuyeleMatanda – CEO of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The total number of registered foreign participants has well exceeded the expected 350. ​

As a platform offering infinite opportunity to capitalize on the local trade potential, the conference will also be represented by the cream of the local commercial sector, bearing great promise for the immediate future of the local economy.

The full agenda for the conference can be found at http://www.wedf.edb.gov.lk/index.php/about/aboutforum The EDB will continue to release information related to the conference, speaker list and fringe events in the lead-up to the conference on the dedicated web portal: www.wedf.edb.gov.lk

source from Lanka Business News


Significant global interest for World Export Development Forum in Colombo next week

The 16th edition of the prestigious World Export Development Forum (WEDF) taking place on the 12 and 13 October 2016 in Colombo is drawing in a significant number of international trade and business leaders to the country.

This announcement was made by State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe, during a press conference in Colombo on 6 October. State Secretary Anura de Silva, Chairperson and Chief Executive of Sri Lanka Export Development Board Indira Malwatte and the Steering Committee members of WEDF, comprised of both public and private institutions, participated at the press conference.

​The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), is organising the two-day global conference.

A highlight of the global export industry calendar, the illustrious forum expects to attract 400 international delegates including renowned international speakers, trade experts and close to 300 local business leaders and entrepreneurs, making the event an unprecedented landmark for the export industry of the country.

WEDF 2016, with the theme ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, is a forum for discussing business, high-level policy, trade integration and solving concrete issues affecting private sector competitiveness. This year’s event will stage four key plenary sessions addressed by world renowned speakers, two ‘In-focus’ sessions, offering the audience valuable insight into practical business cases, and will be presented by highly successful entrepreneurs in the region.

​The two-day summit will focus on current issues shaping export competitiveness in the region and across the globe, the new trade and development landscape and strategic trade success. It is a networking event that promotes the potential for establishing new, long-standing trade relationships between countries for a strong export economy in the immediate future. Entrepreneurs and founders of start-ups can connect with experts as they impart trade secrets and present practical workshops.

A highlight of the global export industry calendar, the forum is being graced by Secretary General of The Commonwealth Secretariat H. E. Patricia Scotland, Pakistan Minister of Commerce Khurran Dastgir Khan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Deputy State Secretary for Foreign Economic Affairs Dr. Petra Pana, China Ministry of Commerce Wang Shouwen, ITC Switzerland Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez and European Commission Chief Trade Economist Dr. Lucian Cernat - among many others - where they will address challenges in international trade and solutions to overcoming them. ​

Among the global business leaders who will be participating at the summit is Amata Corporation CEO Vikrom Kromadit, Thailand’s biggest industrial-park developer and eBay Inc. Greater Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Vice President Eben Sermon and Alibaba Group VP and Chief Investment Officer Gao Hongbing. The total number of registered foreign participants has well exceeded the expected 350.

WEDF 2016 is also a dedicated platform to expedite business opportunities and partnerships with dedicated business-to-business (B2B) meetings, capitalising on local trade potential. 136 Sri Lankan companies and 116 foreign buyers have registered for these B2B sessions in sectors ranging from information and communications technology (ICT), tourism, specialty foods (including tea and spices), food and beverages, apparel, rubber and manufacturing. For Sri Lankan businesses, these sessions offer the possibility of new customers and contracts; for international buyers, they offer a chance to discover cutting-edge suppliers of quality goods and services.

A mini-exhibition to showcase the best Sri Lankan export products will also be held parallel to the exhibition. The exhibitors will also get the opportunity to display their products to the international buyers attending the forum.

Visiting international trade delegations can explore business opportunities in Sri Lanka while discovering Sri Lanka’s potential to be a regional business hub by participating in field visits, guided factory visits and other programs that would run complementary to the event.

DFCC Bank PLC – the Exclusive Banking Partner for the event, and Brandix – the Exclusive Apparel Partner are Platinum Sponsors along with Sri Lanka Tourism. Expolanka Holdings and Link Natural Products will be Gold Sponsors with Nestlé Lanka PLC, Dialog Axiata PLC and CIC Holdings joining hands as Silver Sponsors. The country’s national carrier SriLankan Airlines is on-board as the official Airline of the event. EWIS Information Systems takes on the role of IT Partner and Lanka Hospitals as the Official Health Care Provider of the two-day conference. Wijeya Newspapers and MTV/MBC are stepping in as the Preferred Local Print and Digital Media Partners and Laksala as the Giftware Partner.

source from Daily FT


“WEDF 2016 will give sri lankan participants opportunity to benchmark themselves against global giants in ICT/BPM industry” – mano sekaram

The global economy is currently going through a rapid digital transformation where the knowledge-based workforce is required to continuously automate and digitize enterprises at an accelerated pace. According to Mr. Mano Sekaram, the current Chairman of SLASSCOM (Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies), the national chamber for IT/BPM and knowledge services in Sri Lanka, a well-planned strategy spread across the entire sphere of the industry is what powers Sri Lanka’s continuous momentum.

​“What enabled our rapid growth was a planned strategy based on a competent workforce, quality of service and cost competitiveness, a strategy that was propelled by strong collaborations between the public and private sectors,” Mr. Sekaram, also Co-Founder and CEO of 99X Technology said.

​This momentum of the ICT/BPM industry and the pace of data and service monetization have made the sector a very attractive talent incubator, with the workforce growing by 300 percent, begging the question; What measures are in place to guide our talent to maintain benchmark levels of expertise?

Mr. Sekaram assures that there is a tremendous transformation in Sri Lanka when it comes to ICT-related knowledge sharing and education, especially over the last five years. The relevance and vitality of IT education itself has increased exponentially among students, rising in importance alongside the more traditional streams such as medicine, law and engineering. The quality of IT education available in Sri Lanka also plays a crucial part in the bigger picture.

​“Understanding the importance of quality IT education, all universities, both local and private, are benchmarking themselves against high global quality standards to ensure that the curricula is current and up to date,” he explains. “The industry itself is actively involved in ensuring this and many professionals in the IT sector, including many from the SLASSCOM board, sit on the advisory boards of universities to bring in trending industry inputs and to ensure quality output. More recently, we introduced CFAS (Certified Finance and Accounting Specialist), to further Sri Lanka’s ambition of becoming a key knowledge-based economy.”

​SLASSCOM’s vision for 2022 includes increasing revenue to $5 billion, creating 200,000 direct jobs, powered by 1,000 startups. This ambition is fast being realized, with Sri Lanka being recognized globally as a promising outsourcing destination. Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company ranked Sri Lanka among the top 30 global outsourcing destinations and within the top 9 in APAC for ICT and BPO in 2011. The National Outsourcing Association (NOA) in UK awarded Sri Lanka as the ‘Outsourcing Destination of the Year’ in 2013 and shortlisted for Offshoring Destination of the year Award in 2014 and 2015. The country was also recognized as the center of excellence for Finance and Accounting Outsourcing and ranked at 16th in the A.T. Kearney’s Global Services location Index (GSLI) in 2014.

​“Digitization is imminent. There can be no delaying the digital transformation, and as a country, we need to embrace change and keep up with the frantic pace of digitization happening globally,” Mr. Sekaram stated. Currently, ICTA together with SLASSCOM is currently working on setting up the right infrastructure for a knowledge-based economy, focusing not only on Colombo but on regional growth as well, especially in Kandy, Jaffna and Galle.

“The main challenge we face now is the need to triple our capacity. We are doing so by encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship and build infrastructure that is conducive for growth. SLASSCOM is actively involved in all these areas, spearheading many initiatives in this regard and working towards bringing about inclusive growth through ICT across the island, from the cities to the grassroots.” ​

“This is why WEDF 2016 will give Sri Lankan participants the opportunity to benchmark themselves against other global giants that cater to the ICT/BPM industry, along with other export sectors. This forum will create a platform on which we can display our unique strengths to the world and be highlighted amongst the other countries, while learning and identifying the areas in which we require further improvement to become a leading ICT/BPM destination in the global marketplace.”

Mr. Sekaram also emphasized on how WEDF 2016 will provide local ICT practitioners with excellent networking opportunities to build new partnerships that could result in greater business and knowledge-sharing benefits in the future.

“It’s time we get onboard the fourth industrial revolution that’s taking over the world today and truly improve our competitive advantage in the global sphere, Mr. Sekaram concluded.

The full agenda for the conference can be found at - http://www.wedf.edb.gov.lk/index.php/about/aboutforum The EDB will continue to release information related to the conference, speaker list and fringe events in the lead-up to the conference on the dedicated web portal: www.wedf.edb.gov.lk

For further information related to sponsorship opportunities contact Jeevani Siriwardena, Additional Director General/ Development – EDB on 071 8365001 and for participation Mrs. Chitranjali Dissanayake, Director-Industrial Products – EDB on 071 8071163.

source from Lanka Business News


Minister samarawickrama meets with wedf organizers and sponsors to discuss progress one month ahead of conference

Minister Samarawickrama

21st September 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, The Honourable Malik Samarawickrama together with the Chairperson and Chief Executive of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) Mrs. Indira Malwatte met with the organizing committee and sub committee members, as well as sponsors and partners for a progress review meeting of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016.​

​“This is one of the biggest events the new Government has undertaken,” Minister Samarawickrama stated, “And we are well on track to making it an exceptional global conference.” As of the date of this meeting, the conference had 361 registered foreign participants, and 282 registered local participants, a number that is rapidly growing, with more registrations expected within the one-month countdown for the event.

(WEDF) 2016, a globally represented 2-day forum facilitating international trade is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka on the 12th and 13th of October. The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the EDB is organizing the conference, themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’. Of a number of 44 speakers in total, 32 are international speakers, including policy makers, trade experts, trade analysts and business leaders.​

All those present were taken through the various areas of focus by the specific sub-committees, with the sponsors being briefed on stall plans for the mini exhibition, which would host a total of 48 booths at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), the venue for the event. ​

​DFCC Bank PLC - Exclusive Banking Partner for the event, and Brandix - Exclusive Sectorial Partner representing Sri Lanka’s apparel sector are Platinum Sponsors. Expolanka Holdings and Link Natural Products will be Gold Sponsors at WEDF 2016, with Nestlé Lanka PLC, Dialog Axiata PLC and CIC Holdings joining in as Silver Sponsors. The country’s national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines is on-board as the official Airline Partner of the event, EWIS Information Systems takes on the role of IT Partner of the 2-day conference, with Wijeya Newspapers stepping in as the Preferred Local Print Media Partner.

“To the sponsors and partners of this event, thank you for showing us your support,” Minister Samarawickrama added.“Today the public and private sector is working together to stage a much-anticipated international conference. The important thing to remember is we need to continue this pace and keep working at it, since the whole world is watching. We need to continue this momentum because there are far greater heights that can be reached based on the success of this summit.” ​

​Additionally a progress report was given on the business-to-business (B2B) meetings, one of the main attractions of the conference. Registered companies have a promising networking platform to expedite business opportunities and partnerships, both regionally and globally. Sectors such as tourism, information and communication technology (ICT), apparel and most importantly manufacturing will be covered for high potential buyers and sellers at these meetings.

​As of the date of this meeting, a total of 100 Sri Lankan companies have registered for the B2B meetings. The number of international buyers registered under the EDB is 62, with a final target of 50, with the ITC also targeting to bring in 50 more international buyers, out of which 32 have already registered.

“We are thrilled with the number of registrations that are pouring in,” Mrs. Malwatte stated. “It shows that Sri Lanka is today looked upon as an investment friendly country. We must show the world we are capable of hosting events of such global prominence, and keep moving ahead in the same direction, aiming to host events such as the World Economic Forum in the future.”

The branding, advertising, event setup, main forum setup, committee rooms, breakout session rooms and trade stall options were also discussed at length by the organizers.

The full agenda for the conference can be found at http://www.wedf.edb.gov.lk/index.php/about/aboutforum

The EDB will continue to release information related to the conference, speaker list and fringe events in the lead-up to the conference on the dedicated web portal: www.wedf.edb.gov.lk

For further information related to sponsorship opportunities contact Jeevani Siriwardena , Additional Director General/ Development –EDB on 071 8365001 and for participation Mrs. Chitranjali Dissanayake, Director-Industrial Products –EDB on 071 8071163

source from Lanka Business News


DFCC Bank launches special benefits for exporters

DFCC Bank Deputy CEO Lakshman Silva exchanging the agreement as Exclusive Banking Partner for the World Export Development Forum with Export Development Board Chairperson and Chief Executive Indira Malwatte in the presence of State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe

Exclusive banking partner for WEDF

​DFCC Bank PLC has tied up with the Export Development Board (EDB) as the Exclusive Banking Partner for the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) set to take place in Colombo on the 12 and 13 October.

WEDF is a unique global conference and Business-to-Business (B2B) matchmaking platform dedicated to supporting trade-led development. It is the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), a UN body, which brings together over 600 business leaders, policymakers, heads of trade, investment support institutions and international trade development officials to address international competitiveness for developing countries. The global forum will take place at the BMICH and will be held under the theme, ‘Connect Compete and Change’.

In reinforcing its commitment towards this event and elevating Sri Lanka’s export community to establish its footprint in the international arena, DFCC Bank has launched a suite of value added services for exporters.

DFCC Bank Vice President, Trade Services Prasanna Premaratne, who counts over 25 years of experience in commercial banking and trade services, says: “Exports strengthen the economy by bringing foreign exchange into the country and increasing job opportunities for Sri Lankans. Therefore, the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) which will be held in Colombo is a momentous achievement for the country and DFCC Bank is proud to be the Exclusive Banking Partner for the event. We believe this international event will be the right platform for exporters to explore new business opportunities.

“DFCC Bank remains committed to being a strategic partner for exporters, offering financial solutions for working capital and long term capital expenditure, along with customised services to help exporters – small, medium or large - gain a competitive edge. In line with this, the Bank has launched a bundle of value added services for exporters, which includes, advising of export LCs and amendments free-of-charge; waiving of courier charges/free delivery of export documents; door-to-door service for pick-up of export documents and tailor-made facilities. We also have a dedicated customer service hotline (011) 2371471 exclusive for exporters.”

source from Daily News


Empowering Sri Lanka's business women in SME sector

Sri Lanka’s economy has witnessed a steady revival in growth during the past few months, with the country venturing into new avenues of commodity and service monetisation.

Investment has evenly spread across technology, innovation and BPOs, but close inspection begs to raise the question: Is Sri Lanka putting enough effort to foster and realize its workforce potential?

Let the numbers do the talking. Of the total economically active population in Sri Lanka, women account for only 34%. What efforts are being made to promote enterprise and entrepreneurial opportunities to the female workforce of Sri Lanka?

Micro-level entrepreneurship by women has seen accelerated progression over the past few years to be recognized as small and medium-scaled enterprises (SMEs) today, but even these levels remain staggeringly low. According to reports, with 80% of Sri Lanka’s economy being driven by SMEs, only 10% consists of women entrepreneurs.

“In the Government sector we see females in many senior positions, most of them engaged insignificant roles such as policymaking,” Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) Chairperson, Indira Malwatte said.“Now we also have more female entrepreneurs taking on game-changing roles and getting into the crux of business.The EDB is actively promoting this movement.”

“We (EDB) are going to sign an agreement to launch a programme together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for female entrepreneurs engaged in the ICT, fruit and vegetable and food processing sectors. These are three areas we have identified where there’s a potential for women to grow and benefit from assured revenue generation,” Malwatte explains.

“I believe empowering women empowers the whole nation,” the Chairperson elaborates.

She is also championing the She Trades Initiative in Sri Lanka, a web and mobile application launched by the International Trade Centre (ITC) that provides women entrepreneurs of the world to connect to markets across the globe.

“Women can now share information about their companies and expand through the best networks. This platform enables women to find new business opportunities on a global scale.”

The EDB has also conceived a programme named ‘DayenLowata’, with the intention of enabling local entrepreneurs to extend and advance their localized businesses to contribute to the export economy.

“We have decided to pick 10 successful entrepreneurs from each district in Sri Lanka who have showcased basic skills in business, to foster export opportunities for their businesses.

Of the 10 nominees, a minimum two will be women, leaving room for the number to increase. With this, our target is to empower at least 50 female entrepreneurs over the course of the first round of grants.” “Today, the woman is in a position to bean entrepreneur and also a bread winner for her family,” Malwatte explains. “These women will also instill similar values in their children. Intelligent women will benefit society. They are the new engine for economic growth and due recognition has to be given to them.”

“When it comes to equality, Sri Lankan women have equal opportunity in education. Even with certain limitations and boundaries in our country’s culture, I believe education is balancing it off. If you are capable and professional, and if you are on top of your job, there is absolutely nothing stopping women from reaching their goals in life.”

“We have created a women’s cell in the EDB where for the first time in Sri Lanka, we have an officer dedicated to helping out female entrepreneurs,” Malwatte said. “This year’s World Export Development Forum (WEDF), scheduled to be held at the BMICH in Colombo in just over one month, will also focus on timely topics that are relevant for women, with a female-centric workshop to better educate Sri Lankan female entrepreneurs also taking place during the two-day summit.”

“Our business women should take this chance to explore new opportunities,and network with trade experts and business persons from across the globe. This is a very promising platform to partner up and expand your business. Now is the time to grow.”

source from Daily News


Special exhibition to showcase best of Sri Lankan products at WEDF 2016

Close to 40 of the most elite brands in Sri Lanka will be displaying the best of local products at a special exhibition that will coincide with the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016. With the global summit scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka on 12 and 13 October this year, Sri Lankan enterprises such as Brandix Apparel Ltd., MAS Holdings, Akbar Brothers, Ceylon Tea Services, Camso Loadstar, Virtusa, 99X Technology, Gem Paradise and H.D. De Silva & Sons are ready to demonstrate their capabilities on a global platform.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) is organising WEDF 2016, a much-anticipated event on the global export calendar. The theme of the two-day conference is ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, and is also the basis for the exhibition.

“To connect with the global export industry, and compete with our counterparts, we must show the world our manufacturing prowess. We must show the world what we are capable of producing, and that we also have the resources to back-up the demand with a steady supply-base,” Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) Chairperson Indira Malwatte said.

The exhibition also paves way for the Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings, with registered companies having a promising networking platform to expedite business opportunities and partnerships, both regionally and globally. Sectors such as tourism, information and communication technology (ICT), apparel and most importantly manufacturing will be covered for high potential buyers and sellers at these meetings.

As of now, 117 companies have registered for the B2B meetings, with an estimated number of 650 attendees at the forum, including policy makers, trade experts, trade analysts and global business leaders.

“It’s not too late to register for WEDF 2016. We are happy to extend our invitation to all stakeholders of the economy to come forward and join this endeavour, to make this conference a beneficial one for us all,” commented Malwatte.

source from Daily FT


World Export Development Forum 2016 to tackle pressing topics in regional and global trade

The 16th edition of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) will see global business leaders, policy makers and heads of trade discuss issues ranging from transitioning trade environments, transparency and traceability to business strategies and trade policies across the world.

The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) together with the International Trade Centre (ITC) announced the finalised agenda of the two-day conference themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, scheduled to be held on 12 and 13 October.

This year’s event will stage four key plenary sessions, with the opening plenary session taking on the timely topic When Regional Blocs Cross Oceans, discussing the significance of driving global connectivity through improved and well-governed trade facilitation. The second session takes on the competitiveness of today’s digital economy by discussing the topic Digital Doors to Trade.

Day two will present a plenary session on Standards: A Gateway to Global Markets, focusing on changing consumer mindsets and standards required to regulate resulting dynamic supply chains. The final plenary session touches base on tourism, one of the biggest potentials in export investment and development, focusing on Authenticity: The New Tourism Destination.

The plenary sessions act as catalysts for the WEDF Forums across the years, enabling discussions on pressings as well as trending trade policies, and industry changing plans and decisions.

This year’s sessions are setting benchmark standards by bringing together influential thought leaders from both business and government sectors, including Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat – Patricia Scotland, Tony Nash – CEO and Chief Economist of Complete Intelligence from Singapore, Mahesh Amalean – Chairman of MAS Holdings, Brian Pallas – Chairman and Founder of Opportunity Network from Italy, Lanre Akinola – Editor of Africa Business from UK, Hiran Cooray – Chairman of Jetwing Group from Sri Lanka, Mano Sekaram – CEO and Co-Founder of 99X Technology and more.

The first day of the conference will also present two ‘In-focus’ sessions, offering the audience valuable insight into practical business cases, and will be presented by highly successful business entrepreneurs in the region. The first session will discuss Trade Facilitation and Logistics in Regional Integration, while the second will focus on how Young Entrepreneurs Enable Innovation.

Day two of the conference will host ‘How-to’ workshops, slated to take on timely and beneficial trade topics for SMEs. The sessions are categorised across the main focus groups, Young Entrepreneurs – From Ideas to Markets for the millennials that are venturing out on their own, Services for Women Entrepreneurs targeted at the growing number of females who are exploring new business avenues, a workshop on How to go Digital focusing on the importance of digital marketing and awareness for new businesses, and Managing Logistics in the Supply Chain for efficient and lean business processes. These sessions will be presented by ITC’s very own trade experts.

The highlight of the two-day forum however, remains to be the dedicated Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings for registered companies, set to expedite business opportunities and partnerships across borders. These B2B meetings between high potential buyers/sellers will cater to sectors such as tourism, information and communication technology (ICT), apparel and most importantly manufacturing, with the country currently heavily focused on investment in manufacturing for export.

“Trade policies and strategies across the world need to change in order to meet new business realities, and this is why WEDF 2016 sessions will focus on some of the most critical issues we are facing today,” commented SLEDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte. “We are encouraged by the fact that this October, we will bear witness to some game-changing breakthroughs in international trade, along with some promising business partnerships, which will also result in the continued revival of our local economy.”

The full agenda for the conference can be found at http://www.wedf.edb.gov.lk/index.php/about/aboutforum

source from Daily FT


High-profile list of international speakers to take the stage at WEDF 2016

President Maithripala Sirisena and Minister of Development and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama will lead the line-up of high-profile speakers including policy makers, trade experts, trade analysts and global business leaders, set to speak at the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), scheduled to be held on 12 and 13 October in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), organises the global summit. ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez will also take the stage on the opening day of the event together with the President of Sri Lanka, to start off the two-day event.

The first plenary of WEDF 2016 on the topic ‘When Regional Blocs Cross Oceans’, is one of the most anticipated sessions at the forum, with the panel of esteemed speakers consisting of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat Patricia Scotland, President of the Confederation of Indian Industries Dr. Naushad Forbes, Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce Khurran Dastgir Khan, Chairman of local apparel powerhouse MAS Holdings Mahesh Amalean and CEO and Chief Economist of Complete Intelligence from Singapore Tony Nash. The panel will be moderated by geopolitical expert Amin Kazmin, Head of Office at the Financial Times Asia.

The session is set to explore research results from the Commonwealth Secretariat on the impact of mega regional blocs on developing countries, and the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on South Asian nations such as Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.

The second plenary session will focus heavily on the rapid digitisation of trade and ecommerce success stories, with experts on the subject taking the stage as panellists. VP of Alibaba Group and Director of AliResearch Hongbing Gao, CEO and Co-Founder of award-winning software product engineering company 99X Technology Mano Sekaram, Chairman of Daffodil International University & Daffodil Group, Bangladesh Md Sabur Khan, Chairman and Founder of The Opportunity Network, Italy Brian Pallas and CEO of Wormhole IT, Argentina Sally Buberman.

Day two of the conference will host the third plenary session titled ‘Standards, a Gateway to Global Markets’, with Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Chairman Upul Jayasooriya, Nestlé Sri Lanka Director/VP Jagdish Singla, ITC Chief Economist Marion Jansen, The European Commission Chief Trade Economist Dr. Lucian Cernat and African Business Editor Lanre Akinola.

These acclaimed international economists will present guidance for businesses, policymakers and standard-setters on the impact of standards and regulations for businesses in international value chains.

The final plenary session of WEDF 2016 explores the concept of authenticity as a key for competitiveness in the tourism sector. Titled ‘Authenticity: The New Tourism Destination’, the panellists will consist of Jetwing Sri Lanka Chairman Hiran Cooray, Writer/Tourism Expert from Burma Pascal Khoo, China Outbound Tourism Research Institute in Germany Director Dr. Wolfgang Arlt and World Tourism Organisation to the United Nations in Geneva Representative Zoritsa Urosevic. There will be two In-Focus sessions beneficial for young entrepreneurs and start-ups. The first session will look at Trade Facilitation and Logistics in Regional Integration with Stefano Arganese – CEO of Central Eastern Europe and Middle Europe for DHL and Saman Kelegama – Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies of SriLanka (IPS), and will be moderated by Donia Hammami – Vice President of the ICC, France.

The second In-Focus session brings together Dulith Herath – CEO and Founder of Kapruka.com, Sri Lanka, Gian Luca Petrelli – Founder and CEO of BeMyEye, United Kingdom, Rizhlane El Alaoui – General Director of QuickTech, Morocco and Ruwindhu Peiris, a Managing Directors of Stax, a global strategy consulting firm with offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Colombo. Additionally, there will be four How-To workshops targeting the SME sector on topics such as Young Entrepreneurs: From Ideas to Markets, Services for Female Entrepreneurs, Managing Logistics in the Supply Chain and How to Go Digital. The closing session will once again see Minister Malik Samarawickrama taking the stage with Arancha Gonzalez, also joined by Sujeewa Senasinghe, State Minister of the Ministry of International Trade, Sri Lanka, who is championing the WEDF 2016 event together with the joint support of the EDB, the government and the private sector.

EDB Chairperson and Chief Executive Indira Malwatte commented on the calibre of speakers who are confirmed to speak at WEDF 2016 saying, “We are excited that this year’s participants will have an opportunity to witness renowned industry experts, economists and business leaders at one forum, to learn, to discuss, and most of all to be part of significant changes to the future of trade in the region and across the globe.”

All plenary and other sessions align with this year’s conference theme, ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, and is targeted to attract over 350 international delegates and 300 local business representatives and entrepreneurs, making the event an unprecedented benchmark for the export industry of the country. For further information related to sponsorship opportunities and participation contact Dayani Wegapitiya on 0777 732846.

source from Daily FT


Over 600 business leaders at WEDF Forum in October

Over 44 countries will participate in the 16th edition of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) which will be held on October 12 and 13 2016, in Colombo.

As the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), WEDF brings together over 600 business leaders, policymakers, heads of trade and investment support institutions and international trade development officials to address international competitiveness for developing countries.

“WEDF is a unique global conference and business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking platform dedicated to supporting trade-led development and it’s an honor for Sri Lanka to host an event of this magnitude,” State Minister of international Trade, Sujeeva Senasinghe said.

This 16th edition of WEDF is co-hosted by ITC and the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB). ITC is the only United Nations organization focusing exclusively on small and medium-sized businesses, which are now recognized as a cornerstone for development by the United Nations as well as by the G7 and the G20.

ITC helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow and compete internationally, building on business opportunities.

“With an average GDP growth of 6.7% over the past several years, Sri Lanka offers new trade and investment opportunities at a strategic location at the crossroads of important maritime routes of the Indian Ocean.”

The high-performing economy is underpinned by a skilled, educated workforce. Many multinationals have a home in Sri Lanka.

Over 80% of Sri Lankan businesses are SMEs. They feature prominently in Sri Lanka’s economic blueprint, which sets out ambitious goals to create one million new jobs through wider participation in the global economy.

EDB is the key agency that promotes linkages between Sri Lankan businesses and international markets and partners.

The consumers of tomorrow are shifting and its expected that by 2030, two thirds of the middle class will be in Asia, 14% in Europe, and 7% in North America, according to the Brookings Institution. Africa and Latin America too, are changing fast.

The World Bank estimates that nearly half of Latin Americans will be in the middle class by then. The African Development Bank reports that Africa now has the fastest-growing middle class, with almost 35% of Africa’s population. This is double what it was less than 20 years ago.

As a result, trade patterns continue to change. There are growing transactions within and between the South, such as between Asia and East Africa, and Latin America or between African countries themselves. This trade will continue to be anchored within regional and international value chains.

Consumers increasingly emphasize quality, standards and labour and human rights in their purchases of goods and services. There is greater attention on transparency and traceability of value chains. The way that consumers purchase and consume goods and services is also changing, with technological innovations and falling transportation costs.

The economic power of women and youth has yet to be tapped. This ‘third billion’ of women, including entrepreneurs and young consumers, are becoming vibrant economic actors in the new business reality. Trade and business policies must transform to meet these new realities.

The continued fragmentation of production, logistics, a focus on reducing non-tariff barriers to trade, and the implications of private standards will dominate the trade topography. The balancing act between the multilateral trading system and megaregional trade agreements will also define the landscape.

As megaregional agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership emerge, the voice of business is essential to shape competitiveness strategies. Trade facilitation and logistics remain key drivers of improved connectivity. “Digital technologies are reshaping how we trade, opening up new opportunities to compete in the global economy.

"Enterprises can reach new consumers around the world directly, and integrate more quickly and higher up the value chain, thanks to e-commerce and technologies such as 3D printing," said Chairperson EDB, Indira Malwatte.

“Standards have become a gateway for businesses to enter international markets. Certification of standards and regulations may include supply chain technical specifications required by producers, as well as health, social or environmental standards demanded by consumers or governments.”

She said that through the Business match making events the local SME sector would be able to interact with global companies and share their knowledge and also even look at partnerships. She said that at the end of the event a Boat show too would be organized enabling some of the business leaders, policymakers, heads of trade and investment support institutions and international trade development officials get a firsthand experience of the capabilities of the local boat industry.

source from Daily News


Swedish trade delegation adds to growing momentum ahead of WEDF 2016

From left: EDB Deputy Director/ Market Development Udeni Wijekoon, EDB Director/ Market Development Anoma Premathilake, Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council Secretary General Leif Ivan Ohlson, and EDB Chairperson & Chief Executive Indira Malwatte, confirming the participation of the Swedish delegation for WEDF 2016 at the EDB.

Strengthening the gathering momentum ahead of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016, to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on the 12th and 13th of October, a trade delegation representing Sweden has confirmed their participation. The two-day summit heralded to be an unprecedented benchmark for the export industry of the country, is organised collaboratively by the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka (EDB) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

Participation of the Swedish delegation was confirmed at a meeting between Secretary General Leif Ivan Ohlson of the Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council headquartered in Stockholm, with EDBChairperson Indira Malwatte, held last week.

Ohlson confirmed the participation of a Swedish delegation at the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), B2B session, which is expected to attract the cream of the local export fraternity. Speaking at the meeting, Ohlson commented on the need to promote trade between the two countries, emphasising the potential for establishing new, long-standing relationships for the future. He further expressed his strong interest in assisting Sri Lanka to do more trade with Sweden and the Nordic Region at large.

In the past, Ohlson has completed a tenure as the Head of District for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in Batticaloa and has made significant contributions towards reviving the Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council and now works closely with the Sri Lanka Mission in Sweden.

The B2B session has been conceived with the intention of providing an open platform for businesses to seek out opportunities that exist in the global market and will place focus on ICT, Food and Beverages, Tea, Coconut and Coconut related products, Spices and Spa Products.

Indira Malwatte also took the opportunity to seek assistance from Ohlson to form a collaboration in order to acquire technology for the development of quality packaging for spa products, targeted for the Swedish market. She further inquired regarding the potential opportunity for Sri Lankan rubber automobile part manufacturers to connect with the Volvo supply chain.

The conference will be worked out on the 12th and 13th of October 2016. The EDB has continued to release information related to the conference in the lead-up to the conference dates on the dedicated web portal: www.wedf.edb.gov.lk

The agenda for the conference, speaker lists and information regarding fringe events will be made available on the web portal as and when they become available. For further information related to sponsorship opportunities and participation contact: Director/Market Development Anoma Premathilake, 2300720/ 071822052

source from Daily FT


Top local corporates partnering with EDB to stage World Export Development Forum 2016

Hon. Sujeewa Senasinghe, State Minister of International Trade together with Anura de Silva, State Secretary of the State Ministry of International Trade and Indira Malwatte, chairperson and Chief Executive of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), welcomed on-board key sponsors and partners of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016 at a press conference held at the EDB recently. Fazal Mushin – WEDF 2016 co-chairman also present for the proceedings.

DFCC Bank PLC - Exclusive Banking Partner for the event, and Brandix- Exclusive Apparel Partner representing Sri Lanka’s apparel sector, handed over the sponsorship pledges to State Minister Senasinghe. Both organizations are Platinum Sponsors of the event.

"For over 60 years, DFCC Bank has been in the forefront of development, transforming rural economies by nurturing entrepreneurship, partnering and financing pioneering ventures and new industries, thereby contributing significantly towards the economy." CEO of DFCC Bank stated. "The World Export Development Forum will play a crucial role in enabling businesses to understand how they can flourish by utilizing effective value chains and embracing the benefits of sustainable trade, and DFCC Bank is proud to partner with the EDB as the exclusive banking partner of this prestigious event, which aligns seamlessly with our efforts to drive economic growth in the country."

Commenting on the Group’s sponsorship of WEDF 2016, a spokesperson for Brandix said: "Given the changes and challenges in global markets, hosting the World Export Development Forum in Sri Lanka this year is particularly timely. The Forum will provide an excellent platform for the country to demonstrate its potential as a source for high quality products and services at competitive prices. As a company driven by world-class solutions, Brandix is happy to collaborate with the Export Development Board as a Platinum sponsor and ‘Exclusive Apparel Partner’ at this important event."

Expolanka Holdings and Link Natural Products will be Gold Sponsors at WEDF 2016, with Nestlé Lanka PLC and Dialog Axiata PLC joining in as Silver Sponsors. The country’s national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines come on-board as the official Airline Partner of the event, while EWIS Information Systems takes on the role of IT Partner of the 2-day conference.

"It’s immensely encouraging to receive support from a number of key players as we host WEDF 2016, from a collective of industries," State Minister Senasinghe expressed. "From financial institutions to apparel exports, from telecommunication and IT to some of the top 10 corporate brands in the country, we see these organizations coming together to uplift the immediate future of export and investment in the country. We are looking forward to the imminent success of this event."

State Secretary of the State Ministry of International Trade, Anura de Silva commented, "In keeping with the theme of this year’s conference, which is ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, we are clearly on the right track in connecting leading professionals in trade from around the world. WEDF 2016 promises to be a great networking event for business leaders."

"We have reconfirmed the significance of this globally represented summit being hosted in Sri Lanka, and are greatly encouraged to see our local corporates and institutions backing us in our endeavour to make Sri Lanka’s presence felt at a global scale in the export industry," commented Indira Malwatte, chairperson. "We invite other like minded corporates to come forward and join us in making this conference a truly memorable one."

The 16th edition of the conference scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka on 12th & 13th of October 2016 is the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), and is a highly anticipated event in the global export industry calendar.

Within the WEDF 2016 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, ITC and EDB will organize facilitated B2B meetings on 11th October 2016 enabling opportunities for companies around the world to meet potential business partners. Individual matchmaking meetings between high potential buyers/sellers will be arranged by the WEDF team to meet the addressed business needs for each company. These will allow participants to explore new business opportunities taking advantage of the strategic position of Sri Lanka at the crossroads of important maritime routes to the Indian Ocean.

B2Bs will cater to the following sectors: Information and communication technologies (ICTs), Tourism, Specialty food: Tea and Spices, Processed food, Apparel, Rubber, Manufacturing.

The agenda for the conference, speaker lists and information regarding fringe events will be made available on the web portal as and when they are announced.

For more information on WEDF 2016, including the programme and registration, please visit http://www.intracen.org/wedf and http://www.wedf.edb.gov.lk

source from The Island


Govt. engages diplomatic corps to make World Export Development Forum a bigger success

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the diplomatic community consisting of commercial counsellors and honorary consuls of foreign missions to Sri Lanka for a briefing on the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016 to be held in Colombo on 12-13 October.

The meeting was led by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Harsha De Silva, State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe and Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) Chairperson and Chief Executive Indira Malwatte.

Welcoming close to 50 delegates representing 39 countries, Deputy Minister De Silva commenced the briefing with the assurance of complete support by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver a rewarding and favourable international forum.

“We are working hand-in-glove with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade to make this event an absolute success,” Deputy Minister De Silva commented. “This conference comes at a very crucial time for Sri Lanka as we face bigger international challenges in trade. I am here to assure you that the Ministry (of Foreign Affairs) is here to face these challenges and take the country forward towards prosperity.”

The global conference, also the flagship event of the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC), expects to bring in 350 international delegates and close to 300 local business leaders and entrepreneurs for the two-day event.

Malwatte emphasised on the significance of the event asa platform dedicated to expediting business opportunities and partnerships with dedicated business-to-business (B2B) meetings.

“As of now, there are 72 companies registered for the B2B meetings, with their profiles readily available online (at www.wedf.edb.gov.lk),” said Malwatte. “While participants explore new business opportunities in Sri Lanka, we have also complemented the event with field visits, tours, and other programmes to show the world what Sri Lanka as a regional business hub has to offer.”

The B2B meetings between high potential buyers/ sellers will be facilitated at the event, catering to sectors such as tourism, information and communication technology (ICT), apparel and most importantly manufacturing, with the country currently heavily focused on investment in manufacturing for export.

“Sri Lanka is now well on its way to become an investment-friendly country,” added Senasinghe, who is championing the Sri Lankan edition of WEDF. “The whole world is looking at us today, and by hosting a global conference such as WEDF, we show them our potential. It is just the start for us.”

WEDF 2016 has also attracted some high calibre international speakers to share their expertise at the forum, including Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat Patricia Scotland, Executive Director of the ITC Arancha González, CEO of Central Eastern Europe and Middle East for DHL Stefano Arganese, Head of Customs and Trade Facilitation Policy at the International Chamber of Commerce Donia Hammami and many more.

The local business community is also represented by visionary powerhouses such as Deshamanya Mahesh Amalean – Co-Founder and Chairman of apparel giant MAS Holdings, Ruwindhu Peiris – Head of start-up Sri Lanka, also driving the ‘1000 start-ups’ program, Dulith Herath – Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Sri Lanka’s largest e-commerce organisation Kapruka, and other likeminded industry leaders.

WEDF 2016, themed ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, will focus on current issues shaping business competitiveness, new markets and trade success. The forum has also brought Sri Lanka’s public sector and Government together with the private sector and the Board of Investment (BOI) in one great effort to ensure the success and continued interest and investment in trade relationships.

“We are creating awareness of a new Sri Lanka,” Senasinghe concluded. “And this is the perfect platform to take this message to the rest of the world.”

The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) is the premier State organisation responsible for the development and promotion of exports. It plays a catalytic role in shaping of national economic agenda by being a policy advisor to the government for creation of conducive business environment. It interacts with the private sector by implementing programs for product and market development and promoting Sri Lanka export basket of products and services.

It is the prime facilitator being the focal point for export development and provider of market intelligence to the business community. EDB has achieved the recognition and commendation as a friendly business partner from the private sector.

source from Daily FT


WEDF creates opportunity for true Public-Private Partnerships

With the recent launch of WEDF 2016 to be held in Sri Lanka in October, the EDB has taken a bold step towards creating a true sense of the word of Public-Private Partnership.

Several leading professionals who have been invited from national chambers and product associations to steer various ‘action groups’ have been appointed to head six different committees tasked to map strategies and plan all aspects of arrangements to successfully hold the two-day conclave which is the 16th edition of the WEDF.

The committees are organised as: Event and Destination Management – Program and Local Speakers; Committee on Mini Exhibition, Local Participation mobilisation, B2B Program and Women’s; Committee on Touristic Packages, Field Factory Visits, Visa and Protocol Arrangements and Conference Packs; Committee on Sponsorships; Committee on Publicity and Media; and Committee on Financial Arrangements.

Each of these committees is represented by a senior EDB official who will be the focal point for the respective subject committees. The private sector will drive these committees and in turn the EDB officers will implement the plans of the steering committee. In addition, senior officers of Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka Tourism and the Department of Commerce are also working hand in hand with all chamber representatives in organising coordinated work plans based on given time targets and deliverables.

The main Steering committee is overseen by State Minister for International Trade Sujeewa Senasingha and EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte. Two co-chairs have been appointed, EDB Additional Director General Jeevani Siriwardena and The Exporters Association of Sri Lanka Chairman Fazal Mushin to review the progress on all aspects, on a continuous basis, giving directions and clearances where necessary ensuring quick decision making process.

This engagement on PPP has been championed by the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, who has ensured a free hand for this committee to perform.

WEDF of International Trade Center, a Geneva-based UN body is a unique global conference and business to business (B2B) matchmaking platform dedicated to supporting trade-led development. More than 600 business delegates will participate making this event one of the largest business promotion events to be staged in Colombo. The Export Development Board (EDB) is the co-host of this program, while the International Trade Centre (ITC) providing all the support to stage this event .in Colombo in October this year.

In addition to the expected economic benefits of the WEDF it has open new vistas for effective private and public sector engagement in implementing nationally important events.

source from Daily FT


EDB discusses B2B arrangements for the Polish trade delegation to Sri Lanka attending the World Export Development Forum in October 2016

The New Delhi based Ambassador for the Republic of Poland to Sri Lanka H.E. Tomasz Lukaszuk met the Chairperson & CE of EDB Mrs. Indira Malwatte on Monday, (23rd May 2016) in Colombo.

The discussion centered on the Polish participation at the World Export Forum to be held In Colombo in October this year. The Ambassador said that he is very keen on bringing down a large delegation for the event and to organise an objective driven B2B meeting programme for the delegation.

Sri Lanka is well known as a tourist destination and for its quality teas he said. He also emphasised the need for engagement in other prospective areas. Poland is keen to look in to both trade and investment prospectives the Ambassador said.

Agro processing, Boat building, Home appliances, ceramics, Green technology and ICT are the mutually benefiting sectors for both the countries to explore for trade & investment promotion.

Reciprocating the Chairperson & CE of EDB Mrs. Indira Malwatte welcomed the idea of organizing B2B program for the visiting trade delegation to the WEDF 2016.

She also said that the EDB and the ITC are ready to organize B2B sessions on Tuesday 11th October 2016 the day prior to the Forum at the BMICH.

Importance of a follow up outward trade delegation from Sri Lanka to Poland next year was also discussed.

EDB also made a presentation on WEDF 2016 to the Polish Ambassador detailing the arrangements of WEDF 2016.

The World Export Development Forum (WEDF), the flagship event of the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC), will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 12-13 October 2016. WEDF will bring together more than 600 policymakers, business leaders, and officials from trade and investment support institutions (TISIs) and international organizations to discuss how to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth through trade. A series of business-to-business match-making events will also be held over the two-day meeting, allowing participants to create business linkages across sectors and across countries.

The Deputy Head of Mission at the Polish embassy ,WEDF Steering Committee representatives from the trade chambers viz National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka, The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka and Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (Coyle) were also present at this meeting.

source from Daily FT


Sri Lanka to host World Export Development Forum 2016

Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama yesterday (5th May 2016) used a gavel gifted by the International Trade Centre to mark the countdown for the World Export Development Forum slated for October this year. ITC Executive Director Arancha González, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Badurdeen, Development Strategies and International Trade State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe and EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte look on.

The World Export Development Forum (WEDF), the flagship event of the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC) will be held in Colombo, on 12-13 October 2016.

The announcement was made yesterday (5th May 2016) by Minister of Development Strategies and international Trade Maiik Samarawickrama. ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez and Export Development Board Chairperson lndira Malwatte. Previous editions of WEDF have been held in Doha, Qatar (2015), Kigali, Rwanda (2014), Jakarta, Indonesia (2012), Istanbul, Turkey (2011) and Chongqing, China (2010).

Over 300 foreign delegates are expected along with an equal number of local participants.

“ITC is extremely pleased that Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) will be hosting this year’s WEDF in Colombo,’ Ms. Gonzalez said. “With its central position in South Asia, at the crossroad of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has risen steadily to become a regional business hub. Convening the global trade and development community and business representatives in Colombo will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the best of Sri Lanka and allow us to talk business and do business.”

WEDF will bring together more than 600 policymakers. business leaders, and officials from trade and investment support institutions (TISI) and international organizations to discuss how to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth through trade. A series of business-to-business matchmaking events will also be held over the two-day meeting, allowing participants to create business linkages across sectors and across countries.

“Countries like Sri Lanka need to thrive on the export of products and services on the way to create vibrant economies,” Minister Samarawickrama said. “Hence, we are now on a new journey. Our new Government has brought in freedom, democracy, transparency and more importantly confidence on the part of the international business community. The decision by the ITC to hold the WEDF 2016 in Sri Lanka itself is a clear message that we are on the right path, symbolising the international recognition for the business environment that we have created.”

“Our way forward in exports is to go beyond the primary and traditional export basket to higher value innovative and original products and services,” EDB Chief Malwatte said. “EDB interaction with international business partners is crucial at this stage. WEDF B2B sessions are focusing towards achieving these national economic objectives through creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to actively participate in the global supply chain by identifying the competitive roles that we can play,” she added.

The theme of WEDF 2016, ‘Trade for Success: Connect. Compete, Change’, reflects the importance of ITC and the Government of Sri Lanka attach to the role of enterprises in trade and job creation in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, SMEs form the backbone of the economy, representing over 90% of all business and contributing to two-thirds of global employment.

WEDF 2016 will focus on hot-button issues shaping business competitiveness, from emerging mega regional trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Trans Pacific Partnership to the opportunities and risks presented by the rise of the digital economy. Participants will also confront the issue of standards, another crucial element for entering new markets and achieving trade success.

In the build-up to WEDF 2016, Ms. Gonzalez and Minister Samarawickrama also announced a series of training programs for Sri Lankan growers/producers and exporters on safety and quality standards as well as for young entrepreneurs through ITC’s SME Trade Academy platform. During WEDF 2016 a series of ‘In Focus’ sessions will be held to explore how young entrepreneurs can take their ideas to markets, how to help connect women entrepreneurs to markets. improving managing logistics in the supply chain, and how to go digital.

ITC has a Iong lasting partnership with Sri Lanka. It has supported the development of the private sector in areas such as export strategies, strengthening of trade and investment support institutions, market analysis and research, south-south trade promotion and non-tariff barriers.

Starting mid-2016, ITC will step up its work on trade policy, trade facilitation, and quality and value chain development to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lankan SMEs, including targeted support to women business owners in Sri Lanka.

source from Daily FT