The first Swiss Sri Lanka Business and Investment Forums were held in Geneva and Zurich on 11th and 12th June 2012 respectively. The events were organized by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Berlin/Germany with accreditation in Switzerland in coordination with the Swiss Asian Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland. This was an initiative to showcase Sri Lanka's investment & trade potentials to Swiss-based industrialists, financial houses and businessmen after the end of the long conflict on the island.
The prime objective of both organizers of the event was to harness the prevailing business interests on Sri Lanka among the business community in Switzerland towards the exposure of the existing Sri Lanka's trade and investment potentials. The success of the events could be witnessed due to the overwhelming participation of the Swiss based business communities in the two forums and their interactions during the forums.
In the opening address of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Switzerland, H. E. Sarrath Kongahage welcomed all participants and gave an outline of the context, in which the forums were timely organized. He emphasized that the relationship between Sri Lanka and Switzerland has been long, very cordial and productive over the years. Some of the leading commercial establishments and companies with more than 100 years of history in Sri Lanka have their origins in Switzerland. As Sri Lanka enters into a new economic era with stability, growth and development today, the forums of this nature would be the gateway to explore the means to enhance our relationship, so that both countries could benefit by the new and timely opportunities created. The Sri Lankan economy grew by 8.3 percent in the year 2011 following 8 percent growth in 2010, when many countries faced an economic slow down. He invited all the Swiss-based investors and businessmen to make use of the right time and right opportunity to be a partner in the development process of Sri Lanka. Finally the Ambassador thanked the Swiss Foreign Office and the Swiss Asian Chamber of Commerce for the coordination of the two forums, which he had requested during the presentation of his credentials in Switzerland.
The Guest of Honour, Honorable Minister Gamini Lokuge, Minister of Labour and Labour Relations reiterated the commitment of the government in developing the entire country with all development partner countries and their private sectors and invited the participants to make use of the right time to invest and do business with Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka's present economic and financial outlook and a way forward was presented by the Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Mr. K. D. Ranasinghe. Sri Lanka's renewable energy strategy was presented by Mr. Pradip Jayewardene, the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Frankfurt. Ms. Sabine Nowak, a Swiss project developer in Sri Lanka, shared her experiences of her project on renewable energy from the household waste in Sri Lanka. Mr. Stefan Huber, the CEO of the Holcim Lanka Pvt. Ltd., the successful Swiss investment company in Sri Lanka, shared the few insights of their successful investments and their social responsibility projects in Sri Lanka from the Swiss perspective. Dr. Maraikkar, the Executive Director of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, presented the potentials of Sri Lanka as a manufacturing hub of South Asia.
From the private sector of Sri Lanka, Mr. C. V. Kulatilaka, the CEO of the NDB Investment Banking Cluster, made a presentation on the Capital Market and Fundraising in Sri Lanka explaining the various financial instruments prevailing for fund raising in Sri Lanka.
From the proposed foreign investor perspectives, Mr. Steven Hedges and Mr. Michael Lutzky, partners of Sapphire Air Travel Pvt. Ltd., Washington D. C., shared a presentation titled "Saphire Air: A travel & tourism investment opportunity in Sri Lanka" elaborating on a tourism air travel investment proposal to cater to the inflow of tourists in Sri Lanka recently increasing by 25% per year..
At the end of the presentations, the forums were concluded with question and answer sessions. There were many interactive discussions and clarifications, which were continued until the end of the networking meals. The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Berlin has already made the appropriate arrangements for the few new business initiatives with the stakeholders in Switzerland, which will be followed up in coordination with the Sri Lankan Government investment regulatory agencies.
Embassy of Sri Lanka,
18 June 2012