PM says Lanka businesses should develop in the Asia Pacific region

Businesses in Sri Lanka have a great opportunity in the he Asia Pacific region in the field of development as the region develops its own competitive trading system, the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said addressing the executive Committee meeting of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Sri Lanka Ruwan Edirisinghe has been elected as the new president of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The newly elected President took over the portfolio from the current President Suraj Vadiya from Nepal at the SAARC CCI 73rd Executive Committee Meeting held on March 26 in Shangri La Hotel in Colombo with the Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe gracing the event as chief guest.

Speaking at the occasion, the Prime Minister said Sri Lankan businesses have a great opportunity in the field of development as Asia is going to develop its own trading system in the next decade before it blossoms out a decade after.

"We have good business opportunities in the Asia Pacific region. Over the next 10 years, countries in the Asia-Pacific region will play a competitive role in competing with each other or in parallel. It will not be a single market like Europe. It will be a competitive market," he said.

"I want to ensure that Sri Lankan businesses have a good opportunity of taking part in development. Similarly SAARC Chamber of Commerce should also ensure that our businesses are in line with these developments. And then we become partners of the large Asia Pacific trading system," he added.

The Premier said the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is a way to ensure the competitiveness of Sri Lankan industries while safeguarding and expanding.

"To safeguard and expand Sri Lankan industries we have to ensure that we are competitive. We want to ensure that Sri Lankan industry and commerce also become competitive. SAFTA is one such way of ensuring that Sri Lanka's goods have to compete in South East Asian market. SAFTA is only a starting point. From there onwards we can make bilateral agreements with countries in South East Asia. We can be more selective because if you look at our services many of ours do not trade with all the countries. We should do. But the bilateral agreements will allow to deepen our trade relations with the countries which are closest to us with whom we trade mostly," he continued.

"While SAFTA will enable us to trade with the other countries in South East Asia we should create a competitive market with Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and other countries," he said.

Speaking of the issues with the Ease of Doing Business, the Premier said there were many issues which could have been attended by the bureaucracy earlier but unfortunately it was left to be taken up at the political level.

"We are working on it. We hope in the next few months we'll move it out," the Prime Minister said adding that there should nevertheless be a mechanism to allow the ease of doing business issues to be addressed if not annually at least once in two years and rectified.

"It is essential that we are looking at the infrastructure, capital, human resources and the administrative measures to do business. With this we hope that the Sri Lankan enterprises will expand and also will be an attraction for foreign investors to come into Sri Lanka," the Prime Minister said.