SRI LANKAN PRESIDENT MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA MEETS WITH TOP AMERICAN BUSINESS LEADERS

September 27, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Minister of External Affairs Hails “Economic Renaissance,” Opportunities Abound for Foreign Investors

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Jaliya Wickramasuriya,  Ambassador to the United States (left), enter a New York luncheon for American business leaders who are investing in Sri Lanka. – Pic by Moran Perera

His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa (center) and External Affairs  Minister G.L. Peiris (left) talk with an American businessman during a luncheon for Sri Lankan investors in New York. - Pic by Moran Perera

While on official visit to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly, His Excellency, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa attended a luncheon for American business leaders to outline emerging opportunities for investment in Sri Lanka.

Business executives from a variety of industries, including the hospitality and tourism industry, the beverage industry, and the aerospace and defense community attended the luncheon held at New York City’s Helmsley Hotel. Executives from the Coca Cola Co., the Boeing Co., Google, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Starwood Hotels & Resorts were among the 150 people present; each of which was personally greeted by President Rajapaksa.  The executives were invited to join the newly formed U.S.-Sri Lanka Business Council; an initiative of Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya which seeks to expand the U.S.-Sri Lanka commercial relationship by promoting trade and investment opportunities that benefit both nations.

Sri Lanka boasts an economy with strong fundamentals – a market poised for continued growth and international investment. Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris addressed the attendees and noted the nation’s promising economic future. “Sri Lanka is today, without any exaggeration, one of the world’s best destinations for investment,” Mr. Peiris stated. “We are on the threshold of an economic renaissance in Sri Lanka.’’

The Sri Lankan delegation’s visit to the United States comes as the nation enjoys remarkable economic success during a global downturn. Sri Lanka’s per capita income more than doubled during the past five years and the International Monetary Fund recently upgraded Sri Lanka to “middle income emerging market” status.

Emphasizing the remarkable success of the Sri Lankan economy after the undoubted defeat of terrorism, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga said a clear example of the buoyant economy is the unprecedented growth of the Colombo Stock Exchange, among the best performing in the world. Weeratunga spoke of the enormous opportunities Sri Lanka is offering with the vibrantly diversified economy stating tourism, infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and fisheries sectors provide tremendous opportunities for all stakeholders.

As the second-fastest growing Asian economy after China, Sri Lanka now looks for additional development of the nation’s infrastructure, including its roads, ports, energy sector and water systems. Esperanza Gomez Jelalian, executive director of the Asia Department at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted the Chamber’s support for Sri Lanka. “We are firmly committed to a working relationship between our countries,” Mr. Jelalian said.

The booming tourism industry in Sri Lanka is expected to continue growing and the expansion of hotels and related development in Sri Lanka is needed to match growing demand. The Sri Lankan tourism industry received a huge boost early this year when The New York Times named Sri Lanka the No. 1 one place to travel to in 2010.

Bhooshi DeSilva, a senior director, PMA-Business Development, at Pfizer Inc., the pharmaceutical industry giant, praised the event. “This forum has the potential to grow into a US-Sri Lanka business council to bring together companies and government,” Mr. DeSilva said. “Companies like Pfizer want to invest in emerging markets like Sri Lanka,” he added, noting that the business luncheon allowed corporate executives to meet government officials. “It is a great way to start a dialogue,” he said.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington, D.C.
27-September-2010