In a departure from the usual conflict allegations, Swiss cities Geneva and Zurich will this week hear the unprecedented post-war potential of Sri Lanka for business and investment under a private sector-led and public sector supported initiative.
Branded as a ‘land of a thousand and one opportunities,’ two separate events titled Swiss-Sri Lanka Business and Investment Forum will be held in Geneva today (Monday 11 June) and in Zurich on Tuesday. It is organised by the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce with Credit Suisse and Holcim as sponsors.
With expert presentations between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the two forums will be concluded with networking lunch.
Holcim Lanka CEO Setfan Huber and Bischoff Textiles Ltd. President Max R. Hungerbuhler (Bischoff Gamma Lanka Ltd.) will impress the participants about their success in investing in Sri Lanka whilst Economic Development Ministry Additional Secretary M.B.K. Dissanayake will speak on the role of foreign investors in the current economic development of Sri Lanka and BOI Director U. Sirigampala will present the investment framework and opportunities in Sri Lanka. Deputy Minister for Technology and Research Faizer Mustapha will highlight the strategy and potential of renewable energy in Sri Lanka whilst EDB Executive Director Dr. Yousuf K. Marikkar will showcase Sri Lanka as the manufacturing hub in South Asia.
NDB Investment Banking Cluster CEO Vajira Kulatilake will focus on capital markets and fund raising whilst Central Bank Assistant Governor K.D. Ranasinghe will make a presentation on monetary policy challenges for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Germany Sarath Kongahage and Swiss Asian Chamber of Commerce Zurich Sri Lanka Committee Chairman Mark Danger will also address the two forums, participation at which will be at a fee.
In their pre-publicity, organisers have described Sri Lanka as the pearl of and strategically located in the Indian Ocean having a robust economy within a peaceful domestic environment after three-decade of internal conflict. They said that favourable Government policies and improved investor confidence have allowed all the key sectors of the economy to demonstrate a commendable performance.
The economy has grown over 8% p.a. in the post conflict period to US$ 59 billion. As per ADB, IMF and World Bank estimates, the country is well positioned to grow at a rate of 7% in the medium term.
With a 59.5% contribution, the services sector remains the largest contributor to the national economy. The strong economic performance in Sri Lanka has lifted the country’s per capita income substantially, which has enabled it to reach middle-income status.A trading hub competing directly with Singapore and Hong Kong: The Government’s policies are aimed at developing Sri Lanka as a trading hub on the East-West route; perhaps in direct competition with Singapore and Hong Kong.
Even though the economic recovery in most developed markets like the US and EU has been sluggish and has lead to lower consumption demand, Sri Lanka’s exports have increased substantially since 2010.
The United States and Europe have been the major trading partners for Sri Lanka for years, cumulatively accounting for about 65-70% of the country’s exports. The apparels made for designer labels like Victoria’s Secret, Liz Claiborne and Tommy Hilfiger, etc. account for about 40% of the country’s exports, while tea exports account for another 15-20% of the total exports.
Fast-growing innovative export sector was another highlight. Sri Lanka’s future prosperity largely depends on its fast growing and innovative exports sector. The Sri Lankan Government has set an ambitious target of achieving US$ 15 b worth of annual exports by 2015.
Organisers are also marketing Sri Lanka as having the most dynamic real estate market. Sri Lanka is an extremely promising market for organised commercial, residential and real estate services whilst the importance of high demand for energy has also been highlighted with the government giving priority to a sustainable energy mix and energy security.
As to why should Swiss companies consider Sri Lanka for investments and business, organisers have listed the following unique advantages which are particularly suited to Swiss companies and the “Swiss way” of doing business:• A Government that is supportive of business growth• Economic stability and growth, GDP 7.2 % in 2012 and 8,0% in 2013• Steady and stable banking and finance sector• FDI to lead the way• Transparent legal and regulatory framework• Most liberalised economy in South Asia• Attractive investment climate• No restrictions on repatriation of earnings• Significant lower-cost advantage compared to neighbouring countries• Close relationship with India, Pakistan, China, Europe and the USA• Favourable location and connectivity• Fast developing infrastructure• Fast growing export sector• Access to raw materials• A strong Swiss community• Educated and adaptable workforce• Ranks 89 out of 189 in the World Bank’s report ‘Ease of Doing Business,’ ahead of China and India• Quality of life• The cradle of treasure due to wealth of precious and natural gemstones• Access to PPP and renewable energy projects