Investing in post-conflict growth in Sri Lanka:
Minister Yapa meets Thai, Singapore investors
An investment promotion delegation led by Minister of Enterprise
Development, Investment Promotion, Mass Media and Information Anura
Priyadharshana Yapa, has concluded a successful program in Thailand and
Singapore. The visit from June 22 to 26 was organized by the Board of
Investment (BOI) in co-ordination with the Sri Lankan Embassies in
Thailand and Singapore and received tremendous interest from potential
Enterprise Development, Investment Promotion,
Mass Media and Information
Anura Priyadharshana Yapa
The highlight of the program in Thailand was an Investment Forum,
Emerging Peace and Business Opportunities in Sri Lanka, organized by the
Thai-Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce. More than 125 companies attended the
seminar, double the number initially expected by the organizers.
Delivering the keynote address, Minister Yapa said Sri Lanka is today
one of the safest countries in the world for investment. “We are one of
the few countries in the world to have eliminated terrorism and now the
government is focused on rapid economic development of the whole
country,” Minister Yapa said.
The minister said the Sri Lankan economy is set for a long period of
dynamic growth and encouraged Thai investors to make the best use of
investment opportunities. He urged investors from Thailand to discover
Sri Lanka, noting that the country trailed Malaysia and Singapore in
Minister Yapa said the government was keen to attract investments to
the newly liberated North and East of the country with tax-free
incentives being offered up to 15 years.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Thailand, Prof J.B. Disanayaka noted the
strong links between Thailand and Sri Lanka and invited investors to
make use of the positive business climate in the island. Thailand’s
Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Thinakorn Kanasuta, who made a special visit to
Bangkok to be present at the business forum, gave an upbeat assessment
of the investment climate in Sri Lanka after the defeat of the LTTE.
Executive Director (Investment Promotion) of the BOI, Duminda
Ariyasinghe said investors can make use of Sri Lanka’s preferential
trading agreements with India, Pakistan and the EU to target a large
The Minister also met Thai companies interested in investing in Sri
Lanka, including one of the largest construction companies that played a
central role in the construction of the new Suvarnabhumi airport and the
allied highways. Two investment delegations from Thailand are expected
in Colombo in the coming months, as a follow-up to the Minister’s visit.
A 21-member investment and business delegation led by the by the
President of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Business Council, Lionel Fernando
accompanied the Minister and held one-to-one meetings with Thai
counterparts on sectors such as IT/BPO, Gems and Jewellery, Agro and
Food Processing, Tourism, Infrastructure and Manufacturing/rubber-based
The meetings were co-ordinated by President, Thai-Sri Lanka Chamber
of Commerce Suresh Ellawala, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and
the Sri Lankan embassy in Thailand.
Minister Yapa also met Thailand’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
Panich Vikitsreth who oversees investments. Minister Vikitsreth said the
Thai government was encouraging companies to invest overseas, making use
of ample liquidity in Thai banks.
Minister Yapa also delivered the keynote addresses at two investment
forums in Singapore organized by the BOI and the High Commission in
Singapore in co-ordination with International Enterprise (the government
agency spearheading Singapore’s external economics, including
investments) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Singapore, Jayathri Samarakone said Sri
Lanka offers some of the highest rates of return for investors in Asia.
Noting the presence of Singapore stalwarts such as the Shin Kwan Group
and the Prima Group in Sri Lanka for over two decades, the High
Commissioner encouraged investors to make use of emerging growth
opportunities after the war.
Deputy Director General (Investment and Promotion) of the BOI A.M.C.
Kulasekera, said more than 70 per cent of FDIs into Sri Lanka were in
the form of reinvestments, indicating the high level of satisfaction
among existing investors in the country.
Prior to the forum, the Minister met Deputy CEO of IE Singapore Chua
Tail Him, who said the city state would be willing to share its
expertise in production, processing and transporting of agro-based
products with Sri Lanka through new investments. Minister Yapa noted
large areas of land available in the North and East could be utilized
for agro projects. Him also said Singapore would be interested in
establishing an IT and BPO Park in Sri Lanka.
Among the CEOs who met the Minister were a large conglomerate with
interest in hospitality, mining and real estate and the Asian head of a
large US-based consumer products company that is finalizing its
investment plans in Sri Lanka to target the South Asian market.
A 12-member investment delegation led by President of the
Singapore-Sri Lanka Business Council in Colombo Shamil Mendis, held
meetings with counterparts including potential joint venture partners.
The meetings were coordinated by Minister Commercial at the High
Commission Bandula Somasiri, and Senior Manager responsible for
Southeast Asia at the BOI Shantha Jayasinghe,.
Minister Yapa held a meeting with Singapore’s Minister for Trade and
Investment Lim Hng Kiang to discuss the expansion of investments from
Singapore to Sri Lanka. The Singapore Minister expressed his
government’s willingness to fast track negotiations for a Free Trade
Agreement between Sri Lanka and Singapore.
Minister Yapa also met the President of the Singapore Jewellery
Association, Charles Ho Nai and senior executives. Associating at the
meetings were Chairman, National Gem and Jewellery Authority, Hasitha
Tillekeratne and Manager (Exports) of the authority Rohan Pitigala,.
Minister Yapa’s investment promotion missions to Thailand and
Singapore organized by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka gained
significant media interest with extensive coverage including the
prestigious Bangkok Post, the Asian Tribune and the Bernama news agency.