CBB calls for policy stability and facilitation of trade with an FTA with the UK
Roshanie Jayasundera-Moraes, Executive Vice President of John Keells Holdings, was re-elected as President of the CBB of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at a virtually held AGM on 20 July 2021.
Addressing the membership, she called for policy stability in order to facilitate business, build confidence among investors and attract FDI. She also called for a negotiation of an FTA between the UK and SL post Brexit.
“Sri Lanka provides significant opportunities for British companies looking to access larger South Asian markets that have some of the fastest growing economies as well as sizeable populations. In order to facilitate this, we are fully aware that SL needs to improve its ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index and it’s encouraging to know that our policy makers have made this a priority. We look forward to these developments and also volunteer to support the process in whatever way we can, at least in the UK-SL trade corridor,” she stated.
Over the past year, CBB has actively organised several business events such as investor forums, and webinars. It also gained membership to the British Chambers of Commerce, adding value to its members by enabling access over 60 British Chambers globally.
Dr Lakmini Mendis, Minister (Commercial), Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK said: “2020 was a challenging year for businesses. This compelled businesses to be more resilient and innovative while driving them to explore new markets. However, it’s been a remarkable year as total trade exceeded US$ 1 Billion, despite the pandemic. Apparel, comprising 70% of the export basket to the UK, was adversely affected but picked up later along with products such as rubber gloves, food items, coconut products, seafood, herbal teas, etc., stressing the importance of export diversification. In 2020 April we experienced a dip but increased sharply to record high growth in July, August, September, and October exceeding the figures of 2019. Brexit was another challenge we successfully overcame. Many representations and presentations were made by this Mission to the UK DIT in London. With their support Sri Lanka received similar market access as the EU for exports to the UK under the enhanced preferential scheme. During 2020, CBB, CCC, SL High Commission in London, British High Commission in Sri Lanka and DIT in collaboration promoted trade and investment. A stronger bilateral trade agreement is anticipated, noting that UK is our second largest export market.”
HE Sarah Hulton, UK High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, while congratulating the new committee said, “I want to reflect on how challenges can make us see new prospects, sometimes create opportunities to think or act differently, and maybe help us push towards positive change. So our thoughts have been turning towards building back better and moving towards that recovery from the pandemic, and I’d like to share some thoughts today on delivering change and in particular with an emphasis on climate action and clean growth, crucial areas of focus for both countries.
“How can we support countries like Sri Lanka in their economic growth and response to the global climate challenge? Clean growth is the core decarbonisation strategy. Supporting clean transport, energy transition and greener buildings together with green financing are areas of discussion we are having with the Sri Lankan government and businesses. Business leaders also have a role to play in delivering on climate action. I continue to encourage you to embrace and include energy efficiency and sustainable business practices as a key deliverable in your strategic business plans. I also hope you will work in partnership with the Sri Lankan government in playing your part to save our planet for our future generations.”
The 2021/22 executive committee comprises Linda Giebing, General Manager, Hilton Colombo Residences and Shirendra Lawrence, COO, MAS Holdings as Vice Presidents, Irfan Thassim, MD, Oceanpick, as the Treasurer and Mark Prothero, CEO, HSBC Sri Lanka & Maldives as the Immediate Past President.
New committee: Ameena Ziauddin, Development Director, Norfolk Foods, Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny, MD, Inter Air & Sea Logistics, Hajar Alafifi, Chairperson, Unilever Sri Lanka, Sarath Ganegoda, Director, Hayleys PLC, S Renganathan, MD, Commercial Bank, Arjuna Nanayakkara, Head of Shared Services, London Stock Exchange Group SL, Dougie Douglas, Founder, Point to Point Consulting, Indika Abeykoon, GM, Aitken Spence Travels, Gihan Jayasinghe, MD, Finlays Group, SL, and Derek Mansfield, Director & Plant Manager, Sri Lanka Currency, De La Rue.
Michael Fernandopulle, Head of Trade & Investment at the DIT, of the British High Commission, Maarya Rehman, Country Director, British Council will be invitees to the Committee. Representatives from the BOI and the EDB too will be invitees.
Further details regarding membership of the Council and its activities could be obtained from the Secretariat of the CBB at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel.: 011-5588861, 5588800, or via www.cbbsl.com https://www.facebook.com/CBBSriLanka/ and on Twitter @CBB_SL.