Minister Bathiudeen revealed this to a high level US business delegation visiting Colombo. The Minister was addressing the delegation at a special Luncheon Meeting at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo on March 31. Among the delegation were reps from Boeing, Caterpillar, Marriot International, John Deer and Coca Cola. The event itself was hosted by the Minister of Industry and Commerce for the visiting delegation. Among the notables present were Mr Edward Heartney, (Chief, Economic and Commercial Section, US Embassy), Mr Jaliya Wikremesuriya, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka to the US, Karunathilleke Amubugama, Secretary External Affairs, and Tilak Kollure, Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
“I am happy to inform you that Sri Lanka has recorded a promising 8.1% economic growth in 2010 and is expected to grow even faster in the coming years at an estimated 9% in 2012 to 2013. In parallel, our per capita GDP in 2010 too increased by a strong 16.6% to US $ 2399” Minister Bathiudeen said.
“The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, jointly issued by the Wall Street Journal and Washington based think tank “Heritage Foundation”, confirms that Sri Lanka’s economic freedom score at 57.1. The increased score for 2011 reflects ‘major gains in trade, monetary, and investment freedom’. Sri Lanka is also ranked 19th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and Sri Lanka’s improvement is one of the 10 largest in the 2011 Index” Minister Bathiudeen said.
Speaking about the trade relations between two countries, Minister Bathiudeen said: “Sri Lanka continues to enjoy extremely cordial relations with the United States. In 2010, 22% of our exports that is 1.8 billion US $, headed to the US thereby the USA continuing to remain our single largest export destination. Sri Lanka also holds considerable investments coming from the US across many industries and services. However, it is clear that there is much room for further improvement on the investment front.”
The Minister duly credited Sri Lanka’s ambassador to US Jaliya Wikramasuriya for organizing the delegation to Colombo. “I must also credit our Ambassador His Excellency Jaliya Wikramasuriya for his untiring efforts in bringing a top tier US delegation to Sri Lanka under evolving circumstances”
Speaking of the post war developments and the macro-economic stability, the Minister said. “I am sure that you may have been observing the numerous achievements of Sri Lanka in the recent past, particularly since the cessation of the conflict from mid - 2009. Sri Lanka’s turnaround is now accredited by no less than the Wall Street Journal. The macro-economic view shows Sri Lanka’s GDP, which was only 24 billion US dollars in 2005, topping almost $ 50 billion by end of 2010. I am happy to inform you that Sri Lanka has recorded a promising 8.1% economic growth in 2010 and is expected to grow even faster in the coming years at an estimated 9% in 2012 to 2013. In parallel, our per capita GDP in 2010 too increased by a strong 16.6% to US $ 2399. The IMF is also happy with Sri Lanka’s macro-economic stability and fiscal reforms of our government. What is important to note is that this enhancement is witnessed across-the-board in our economy. Despite volatility in global fuel and food prices, domestic inflation rate continues to remain in the single digit level.”
Assessing the overall performance the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) the Minister said: “The CSE has displayed historic peaks in the first post war year of 2010 becoming the best performer among the emerging markets, and the more than 50 Initial Public Offerings scheduled for this year will be highly tempting to the international institutional and high net - worth investors active in cross border equities.”
“The geo-strategic placement of Sri Lanka among Asia’s rising powers opens new doors of opportunities for you to leverage it as an international hub. What is fascinating is that you will be able to leverage it through a multitude of ways—logistically, financially, technologically, marketing and commercial, and even as a knowledge hub. To this end, the government has commenced many large scale infrastructure projects to upgrade and rebuild the country so that our competitiveness is ensured in the global arena. Some such large scale projects are on the sectors of power and energy and transport --such as highways, port and airport development”
“I strongly believe that post war Sri Lanka packs considerable untapped potential in trade collaboration between the two countries and this high level delegation could act as the front-runner in this regard. Therefore I invite you to join us in our new journey and further strengthen the strong foundation that was already laid through centuries old US – Sri Lanka economic relations. As the Minister of Industry & Commerce, I would be more than happy to extend you my fullest support and cooperation to this end” the Minister said.
Media Secretary to Hon. Minister of Industry & Commerce
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