The 6th EU- Sri Lanka investor dialogue was held at the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade recently. Many of the earlier outstanding matters had been resolved through dialogue and the joint efforts of the Sri Lanka and EU authorities.
Hon. Malik Samarawickrama Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade who chaired sessions and led the Sri Lanka delegation stated “we are making an effort on our side to clear all issues. I wish to thank the Ambassadors for their support and co-operation. I am very pleased that we have made considerable progress in resolving outstanding issues and building up our relations with the European Union on a solid foundation”. H E Tun Lai Margue, Ambassador of the European Union replied to the Minister and stated “we are very pleased to meet again and I agree with the Minister that we have managed to resolve many of the issues that existed between Sri Lanka and European Union. Among the matters which were discussed was the need to always ensure transparency when it comes to tendering procedures. This was very important to build up confidence in the European Union for Sri Lanka. It is also factor that impacts significantly on considerably the attraction of FDI inflows to a country”.
Minister Samarawickrama was assisted by Mrs. Chandanie Wijewardena, Secretary Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Mr. Duminda Ariyasinghe, Director General of the BOI and Mr. Mangala Yapa, Board Member of the BOI. The Sri Lanka institutions present were the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, the Department of Public Finance, Ministry of Digital Infrastructure, Sri Lanka Customs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Ports & Shipping, Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Inland Revenue Department, Department of Fiscal Policy and the Department of Emigration and Immigration.
Ambassador to the European Union H E Tun Lai Margue was assisted by H E Jorn Rohde, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Charge ‘d’ Affaires of Romania Mr. Victor Chiujdea and senior diplomats of European Union countries. The event was co-ordinated by Mr. Roshan Lyman, Deputy, Political, Trade and Commercial Section, EU mission in Colombo.
Both sides also discussed other matters such as the need for Sri Lanka to accept digital signatures on documents and the promotion of paperless communication. Other matters for discussion included issues relating to specific companies such as payments of dues and the acceptance by Sri Lanka of classifications of products of the European Union such as the term “energy” on food and drinks labels as well as colour coding to identify sugar levels in food and beverage products. The question of noise pollution at a resort hotel was also discussed and a solution was sought.
At a macroeconomic and strategic level the European Union represents an important source of investment for Sri Lanka.
In the period 2005 – 2016, EU enterprises operating under BOI invested an estimated US$2.5 billion in Sri Lanka.
The bulk sectors for investment were manufacturing (other than textile and apparel) valued at US$ 557 million; textile and apparel manufacture (US$ 327 million); telecommunications (US$ 617 million): Airline services (US$ 325 million); and power generation (US$ 255 million).
The leading European Union countries in terms of FDI to Sri Lanka are the United Kingdom with 90 projects under BOI (of which 54 exporters), Germany (42 projects, 31 exporters), the Netherlands (29 projects, 14 exporters), Sweden (20 projects, 13 exporters) Italy (18 projects, 14 exporters, France (13 projects, 10 exporters) and Belgium (10 projects of which 6 exporters).
The EU-Sri Lanka dialogue is therefore a vital forum that offers considerable opportunities for attracting European investment to Sri Lanka.
Dilip S Samarasinghe
Director (Media & Publicity)