Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 15 May 2011





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Top companies to explore opportunities:

US positive about Lankan economy

Vijaya Ratnayake

The United States has expressed positive sentiments about Sri Lanka and top US multinational companies are keen to explore opportunities for trade and investment in the country, said President American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka (AMCHAM), Vijaya Ratnayake.

He said USA is positive about the Sri Lankan economy and hails its achievements in the short span following the end of the terrorism two years ago.

“A conducive business environment, opportunities in the North and the East, incentives to foreign investors and international trade fairs will encourage global companies to set up ventures in Sri Lanka “ Ratnayake said.

The United States has recognised the potential for trade and investment in Sri Lanka and is eager to develop business between the two countries. These sentiments have been endorsed on many occasions by various statements made by US officials and visiting business delegations.

The potential for business in Sri Lanka was emphasised at discussions held last October and recently during a high level delegation’s visit from the United States with representatives from Boeing, John Deere, Coca Cola, AECOM, Transinnova, AGL Partners and Venture Global Partners.

Ratnayake said representatives of the companies held discussions with officials on exploring opportunities for trade and investment in the country. Sri Lanka should make best use of this opportunity to promote trade and investment.

US President Barack Obama recently launched the National Export Initiative whereby the US hopes to double its exports by 2015. The objective of the initiative is to increase the US Government’s outreach to facilitate exports by its SME’s providing them more export assistance.

Ratnayake said the US export initiative would be an ideal opportunity for Sri Lankan businesses to import goods manufactured to high standards and strict quality controls by regulations laid down by the Federal Government.

Ratnayake said the US has the unparalled capacity to meet our need for capital goods, high tech needs and equipment. Sri Lanka will gain by identifying goods and services from USA which would be beneficial by way of quality, price and long term value and thereby help reduce the trade deficit.

The US-Sri Lanka trade deficit has been in favour of Sri Lanka. US exports to Sri Lanka in January this year were $ 17.3 million while imports were $ 170.3. In the following month exports were US$ 30.2 million while imports were $ 154.6 million.

Sri Lanka’s exports to the United States last year were $ 1,747 million while imports were $ 178 million creating a trade deficit of $ 1,568.9 million in favour of Sri Lanka.

The United States is Sri Lanka’s most important single-country market and in 2010 around 21 percent of exports were to the USA. The USA is Sri Lanka’s second largest market for garments accounting for almost 40 percent of the total garment exports.

Sri Lanka exports apparel and clothing, rubber based products, precious and semi precious stones, tea, coffee, mate and spices, plastics, fish and crustaceans, electrical machinery and equipment to USA and imports aircraft, spacecraft and parts, cereals, machinery, mechanical appliances, cotton, electrical machinery, equipment, man-made filaments, paper and paperboard, plastics and knitted or crocheted fabrics from USA.

The number of tourists from USA has increased by 29 percent from January to March this year compared to the corresponding period last year. The number of arrivals from USA during the first three months this year is 5,800 while last year it was 4,476.

“Sri Lanka has always exported more value to the US than we have imported. We need to bridge this gap in the long term. The reason for the deficit is not price or quality related in most cases but rather lack of awareness among buyers and sellers of both countries”, Ratnayake said.

Ratnayake said AMCHAM is committed to strengthen bilateral economic relations and increase trade and investment between Sri Lanka and the USA.

AMCHAM has 300 members of leading Sri Lankan companies doing business in USA.



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