The American and Ceylon Chambers of Commerce joined the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to co-host US-Sri Lanka Business Forum on 16 October to coincide with the 11th Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Joint Council Meeting.
US Assistant Trade Representative for Central and South Asia Michael Delaney receives a book on Sri Lanka from Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen during the 15 October inauguration of the TIFA Council meeting
Michael Delaney, Assistant US Trade Representative for Central and South Asia, and Anura Siriwardena, Secretary from the Ministry, both spoke in support of expanded bilateral trade at the Forum.
“Our TIFA meetings were cordial and productive,” said Delaney. “We were able to identify a number of ways we can deepen cooperation and boost two-way trade and investment.”
The Forum joined Sri Lanka business leaders and economic policymakers with a visiting delegation of US company representatives to discuss their views on Sri Lanka’s investment climate, economic outlook, and trade opportunities and challenges. It also capitalised on progress from the TIFA Joint Council Meeting on 15 October to foster new business-to-business partnerships.
US Assistant Trade Representative for Central and South Asia, Michael Delaney and Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US Prasad Kariyawasam during the US-Sri Lanka business seminar on 16 October
The TIFA process has been the focal point of a sustained and multi-faceted high-level engagement between the United States and Sri Lanka, focusing especially on impediments to greater bilateral trade and investment flows. One of the key objectives for the TIFA Joint Council is to reduce non-tariff trade barriers and improve the regulatory regimes for foreign investors and potential international partners to find success in Sri Lanka.
“As in the past, it is our view that the TIFA process will continue to broaden and strengthen the bilateral relationship between the US and Sri Lanka,” said Asanka Ratnayake, President of the American Chamber of Commerce. “We also hope it will continue to open avenues for exploring mutually beneficial business opportunities between our two countries.”
The US business delegation represented a wide range of sectors ranging from infrastructure and energy to transportation and consumer goods, and included leading US companies such as GE, Lockheed Martin, and Johnson & Johnson. The participation of such prestigious US companies highlights the enormous potential Sri Lanka’s private sector holds for international partners.
With approximately $2 billion in project proposals in various stages of the approval process, US companies are looking to bring world-class products and services to Sri Lanka at competitive prices. Moreover, these companies often transfer to their Sri Lankan partners leading-edge knowledge and technology that usually accompany US business ventures.
One of the TIFA goals is to help improve Sri Lanka’s investment climate to attract these American investors, who are looking for transparent bidding processes and the sanctity of contracts driven by rule of law. These investors teamed with local businesses and government representatives to discuss concerns about new land restrictions, which may limit the scope and convertibility of future investments.
“We are very happy with the arrival of the U.S. delegation to Sri Lanka, which helps us to further strengthen the existing relationship between the two nations, especially in the sphere of trade and investment,” said Suresh Shah, President of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. “We believe the business forum and the networking session to be held between the visiting business delegation and the Lankan business community will generate productive results.”