Venkat Raman –
A high-level delegation recently returned from Sri Lanka, with a note of optimism stating that the South Asian country would offer incentives for our businesses and investors to enhance their level of engagement.
Put together by Mumbai based Consul General and Trade Commissioner Kevin McKenna, the delegation comprised, among others, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Don McKinnon, New Zealand High Commissioner to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal Grahame Morton, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise officials Sreedhar Venkatram, Daljit Kohli Singh and Irfan Jaffer and New Zealand’s Honorary Consul in Sri Lanka Senaka Silva.
Auckland businessman Wenceslaus Anthony was a part of the 17-member delegation.
Quoting official figures, he said that two-way trade between New Zealand and Sri Lanka stands at US$ 280 million and New Zealand exports (mainly milk powder, apples, pears and butter) account for UD$ 229 million.
Mr Morton said that Sri Lankans and New Zealanders find common experience as citizens of Island nations with proximity to larger country neighbours, and a shared love for the natural environment, Cricket and Rugby.
“The All Blacks have a huge Supporters Club in Sri Lanka. This is an exciting period of opportunity for Sri Lanka and a great time for New Zealand businesses to be considering new opportunities in the growing South Asia region,” he said.
Mr McKenna said that NZTE helps investors to identify New Zealand-based opportunities and gain access to government and private sector contacts.
“NZTE connects international buyers and investors to industries in which New Zealand has a long-term sustainable advantage, in particular value-added food and beverages and knowledge intensive manufacturing and services such as marine, aviation, health and IT. NZTE focuses on international opportunities that match New Zealand’s business capability and provide significant, sustained economic benefit to New Zealand,” he said.
According to Mr Anthony, a business-to-business meeting helped in the larger appreciation of the right choice of companies in Sri Lanka.
“Hopefully, some tangible results would emerge,” he said.
Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravindra Karunanayake addressed a meeting at a Colombo hotel on ‘Economic and Business Overview on Sri Lanka,’ and affirmed that his government was very supportive of foreign companies doing business with Sri Lanka.
Among the highlights of the visit was a private meeting with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.
“He recalled fondly his visit to New Zealand three years ago and was pleased to know about the New Zealand Business delegation visiting Sri Lanka. He said that his government is keen on foreign investment and that proposals for government support in areas of New Zealand expertise would receive active attention,” Mr Anthony said.
Among the New Zealand companies that formed a part of the delegation were DGL International Powder Coatings, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Limited, Eastern Institute of Technology, Genomic and Personalised Medicine Ltd, International Aviation Academy of New Zealand, Maxiloda Limited, North Tec, Patton Refrigeration India Private Limited, Powershield Limited, QualityNZ, Southern Institute of Technology, Tait Communications, Unitec Institute of Technology, Vista Entertainment Solutions, WAML Group, Wellington Institute of Technology Education New Zealand and Whitireia New Zealand.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe with (from left) Wenceslaus Anthony, BCCI Vice-President T C Mathew, Varna Limited Managing Director Channa Wickramasinghe, Kevin McKenna and Sreedhar Venkatram in Colombo last month