A delegation consisting of 6 members of the European Parliament visited the Katunayake Export Processing Zone following an invitation by the Management of Board of Investment of Sri Lanka. The delegation consisting of Mr. Jan Zahradil Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Leader, Mr Sajjad H Karim( MEP), Mr. Paul Rubing (MEP), Mr. David Martin (MEP), Mr. David Campbell Bannerman (MEP), Mr. Ramon Tremosa-i-Balcells (MEP), officials of the EU including Mr. Martti Kalaus, Ms Andrea Cepova-Fourtoy, Mr. Felix Lutz, Ms. Ursa Pondelek as well as representatives of the European Union Embassy in Sri Lanka such as Mr. Roshan Lyman.
The visit was coordinated by Mr. Roshan Lyman, Deputy Political, Trade and Commercial section EU mission in Colombo with Ms. Nilupul de Silva – Director (Promotion), Mr. Dilip S Samarasinghe – Director (Media & Publicity), Ms. Himali Urugodawatte, Director (Legal) – Industrial Relations of the BOI.
The visit began with a briefing at the BOI Administration office by Mr. M K D Lawrance – Acting Executive Director (Zones) who spoke on the role of the Export Processing Zones within the BOI. Thereafter Ms. Himali Urugodawatte made a presentation on the Katunayake Export Processing Zone. BOI also arranged for the delegation to visit several factories. The first was to the factory of M/s Flintec Transducers (Pvt) Ltd which is engaged in the manufacture Sensors used in weighting scales. This company located at KEPZ is a Swedish investment and manufactures advanced components using high technology methods.
This was followed by an inspection visit to M/s Global Sports Sri Lanka (Pvt) Ltd factory that is involved in manufacturing Kites, sails and kite bars. The company is an important player that manufactures for industry leaders such as North Kite boarding and North Windsurfing. GSL has a workforce of 650 skilled workers. The company managers stated to the Parliamentarians that since Sri Lanka is just 8” North of the Equator easy access to markets for such products was a key selling point. GSL has supplied 29,000 kites, 13,000 sails and 24,000 kite bars to 46 countries. This company is an Austrian investment and also promotes these leisure sports in Sri Lanka notably in Kalpitiya and in the Eastern Province.
The final visit of the delegation was to the M/s MAS Active Trading (Pvt) Ltd and M/s MAS Kreeda Nirmaana Division which is engaged in the manufacture of sportswear and also the designs of sportswear for leading brands.
British MEP for North West England Mr. Sajjad Karim stated “One of the ideas that many in Europe hold is that manufacture is really entered in the West and not done entirely in Asia and in particular countries such as Sri Lanka. However, we have seen with our own eyes that this is not a case and that in some instances even R & D is being conducted in Sri Lanka, which implies that new products will be developed here in the future”. Mr. Kareem further stated that when referring to the MAS Kreeda Nirmaana Division that he was reminded of Lancashire in the United Kingdom, where he had grown up, which had once been a leading global center of apparel manufacture. That industry, he added, was now relocated in Asia in countries such as Sri Lanka and he said that he” was enthused by seeing high standards of production in Sri Lanka”.
Mr. David Martin British MEP for Scotland added “the Economic Zones of BOI house without doubt the cutting edge of Sri Lanka’s industry but their very high standards should not be an exception. They should be the norm for all industry in the country”. Mr. David Martin also added the factories of BOI which the delegation visited “were clean and dedicated in maintaining high standards and the quality of their products”.
Mr. Ramon Tremosa-i-Balcells (MEP), from Barcelona/Spain stated “I enjoyed particularly the visit to the MAS Kreeda Nirmana Division which combined in its corporate image on the one hand Sri Lankan tradition and on the other hand modernity and high technological standards. It is also very clear that Sri Lanka’s industry treats its workers well and is not exploitative”.
The visit to the Katunayake Export Processing Zone therefore provided for the European Parliament with a very clear insight into Sri Lanka potential and also highlighted the very high standards maintained in the country in general and more specifically in the BOI’s Export Processing Zones.