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Rajah Abeyasinghe re-elected president, Sri Lanka Italy Business Council

Posted on 02 July 2017 by admin


Sri Lanka-Italy Business Council AGM

The Sri Lanka – Italy Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce held its 18th Annual General Meeting at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on 22nd June 2017. His Excellency Paolo Andrea Bartorelli, Italian Ambassador to Sri Lanka was the Chief Guest at this occasion.

D. R. P Abeyasinghe, Chief Executive Officer, Hydromec International (Pvt) Ltd was re-elected as the President of the Council. Mr. Abeyasinghe has a Mechanical Engineering background.  The latter part of his career however has been devoted to the marketing and commercial aspects of dealing in Earth Moving and Materials Handling Machinery and Equipment.

Abeyasinghe in his address highlighted the achievements of the Sri Lanka – Italy Business Council during the year 2016-2017 under his leadership. These included the organization of meetings with Italian Business delegations that visited the country during the period under review, including the Business Delegation that had accompanied the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy Hon. Benedetto Della Vedova on his official visit to Sri Lanka. A Breakfast Meeting with Mr. Upul Jayasuriya, Chairman, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka; Annual Members’ Night and the Italian Language Course run for Beginners & Advanced Learners were also highlighted.

His Excellency Paolo Andrea Bartorelli in his comments made at the Annual General Meeting reassured the Council of the continued support of the Italian Embassy in Sri Lanka to promote bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Italy.

Mrs. Sonali Liyanamana, Chief Executive Officer, Interglobe – Worldlink Air Services (Pvt) Ltd, and Mr. Anushka Polonowita, General Manager, Euro Sports Auto Lanka (Pte) Ltd., Subsidiary of Micro Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. were elected Vice Presidents of the Council.

A Baur & Co. Ltd., Ally Weerasinghe Ltd, DFCC Bank PLC, JAT Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., Lanka Tiles PLC, Spear International (Pvt) Ltd., The Autodrome PLC, Walkers Tours Ltd. were elected from the membership to serve on the Executive Committee of the Council.


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Posted on 17 June 2017 by admin


Courtesy: Sunday Observer.

‘Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2017,’ organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, will be held on July 25 and 26 at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo.

The two-day summit, which will be held under the title of ‘Execute – Transform – Realize’ will have eight thematic sessions, focusing on economic transformation through policy reforms, domestic and global economic headwinds and also how Sri Lanka can adapt to changing scenarios and succeed in a competitive environment.

During the two days, over 40 resource persons, consisting of high profile Cabinet ministers, policy makers, business leaders and academics will take their seats to share insights and also make recommendations on how Sri Lanka can transform its economy to realize its true potential by the right execution of plans.

The economic event is being held at a time, where Sri Lanka’s economy is navigating through a period of transformation, amidst global turbulence.

Growth has moderated, amidst a fiscal consolidation effort that promises macroeconomic resilience in the medium term.

Hence, executing transformational strategies will be essential to realize the economy’s true potential, a media release from the Chamber said.

The event is supported by some of the best corporate firms in the country. Sunshine Holdings PLC is the Platinum Sponsor, Standard Chartered Bank enters the fray as the Gold Sponsor, Fonterra Brands, the Silver Sponsor and Dialog Axiata, the Telecommunications Partner of the event.

Whilst Janashakthi Insurance, Prima Group, and Nestle Lanka join in as the strategic partners. OMD of OmniCom Media Group is the communications partner. 


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Canada notes strength and depth of relationship with Sri Lanka

Posted on 14 June 2017 by admin

Canada has noted the strength and the depth of its relationship with Sri Lanka.

The High Commission of Canada, as Patron of the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council (SLCBC), hosted the 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the SLCBC. A key stakeholder in strengthening the existing bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Canada, the SLCBC operates under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and engages with the High Commission of Canada to further enhance trade ties between the two countries.

The High Commissioner of Canada, Shelley Whiting, speaking at the event stated that ‘the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council has been a longstanding partner of the High Commission in promoting Trade. I look forward to innovative initiatives that will showcase the Council’s activities in Sri Lanka and add value to its membership’. She further noted the strength and the depth of relationship between the two countries, the market potential in Sri Lanka and the country’s growth and the opportunities to further trade ties.

Addressing the members, the newly elected President Harith Jayasuriya, Director/Chief Marketing Officer, MAC Holdings (Pvt) Ltd thanked Chandev Abhayaratne, the outgoing President, for the immense contribution made towards the growth of Sri Lanka Canada Business Council during the last 2 years.

Jayasuriya highlighted the Council’s main objectives as to promote Bilateral Trade, Investment, Technical & Economic Co-Operation, Tourism and Services between Sri Lanka and Canada. He further stressed the need for SLCBC to take leadership in promoting investment and trade initiatives between Sri Lanka and Canada.

The AGM was followed by a networking reception for the local business community, stakeholders in the government and international organizations. The key note address of the evening was delivered by Ms. Jeevani Siriwardena, Director General of the Export Development Board (EDB) of Sri Lanka on the agreement between the EDB with Canada’s Trade Facilitation Office (TFO). TFO is a non-government organization in Canada working to source products from developing countries, such as Sri Lanka, and supporting small and medium scale enterprises. The presentation focussed on the nature of the agreement, opportunities such as market orientation programs and market visits, and how Sri Lankan companies can avail themselves of the benefits of the agreement.

The membership of the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council is comprised of approximately 60 companies across diverse sectors such as logistics and tourism, imports, exports, manufacturing and services amongst many others. The primary focus of the Council is to facilitate trade between Sri Lanka and Canada, encourage partnerships, exchange of information between the two countries and promote investments. The Business Council also engages with partner organizations in Canada to promote the socio-economic conditions in Sri Lanka.

The event is supported by the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) of the Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka. The TCS is the Canadian government’s network of Trade professionals that promotes Canadian goods and services, facilitates innovation and R&D, as well as builds networks between Sri Lanka and Canada.

Courtesy: Colombo Gazette.


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World Export Development Forum – 12-13 October, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Posted on 21 September 2016 by admin

wedfWEDF 2016 – Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change!

12-13 October 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The 16th edition of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, helps businesses to navigate the new trade and development landscape.

WEDF is a unique global conference and business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking platform dedicated to supporting trade-led development.

As the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), WEDF brings together over 600 business leaders, policymakers, heads of trade and investment support institutions and international trade development officials to address international competitiveness for developing countries.

This 16th edition of WEDF is co-hosted by ITC and the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB).

ITC is the only United Nations organization focusing exclusively on small and medium-sized businesses, which are now recognized as a cornerstone for development by the United Nations as well as by the G7 and the G20.

ITC helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow and compete internationally, building on business opportunities.

Sri Lanka, a hub for South Asia

With an average GDP growth of 6.7% over the past several years, Sri Lanka offers new trade and investment opportunities at a strategic location at the crossroads of important maritime routes of the Indian Ocean.

The high-performing economy is underpinned by a skilled, educated workforce. Many multinationals have a home in Sri Lanka.

Over 80% of Sri Lankan businesses are SMEs. They feature prominently in Sri Lanka’s economic blueprint, which sets out ambitious goals to create one million new jobs through wider participation in the global economy

EDB is the key agency that promotes linkages between Sri Lankan businesses and international markets and partners.

Why attend WEDF 2016?

WEDF 2016 is designed for decision makers that drive business innovation and internationalization.

Meet us in Sri Lanka for high-level panel discussions, practical workshops and B2B meetings to:

  • Get the latest on consumer trends, business strategies and trade policies to navigate today’s trade environment;
  • Connect with experts on trade issues such as standards, trade facilitation and logistics;
  • Find solutions to overcome key trade barriers and increase competitiveness;
  • Sign new business deals with partners from Sri Lanka and around the world.

New realities for international business

The consumers of tomorrow are shifting.

By 2030, two thirds of the middle class will be in Asia, 14% in Europe, and 7% in North America, according to the Brookings Institution. Africa, too, is changing fast. The African Development Bank reports that Africa now has the fastest-growing middle class, with almost 35% of Africa’s population. This is double what it was less than 20 years ago.

As a result, trade patterns continue to change. There are growing transactions within and between the South, such as between Asia and East Africa, and Latin America or between African countries themselves. This trade will continue to be anchored within regional and international value chains.

The nature of the consumer is also transforming. Consumers increasingly emphasize quality, standards and labour and human rights in their purchases of goods and services. There is greater attention on transparency and traceability within value chains. The way that consumers purchase and consume goods and services is also changing, with technological innovations and falling transportation costs.

The economic power of women and youth has yet to be tapped. This ‘third billion’ of women, including entrepreneurs and young consumers, are becoming viable economic actors in the new business reality.

Trade and business policies must transform to meet these new realities. The continued dispersal of production, a focus on reducing non-tariff barriers to trade, and the implications of private standards will dominate the trade topography. The balancing act between the multilateral trading system and megaregional trade agreements will also define the landscape.


As megaregional agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership emerge, the voice of business is essential to shape competitiveness strategies. Trade facilitation and logistics remain key drivers of improved connectivity.


Digital technologies are reshaping how we trade, opening up new opportunities to compete in the global economy.

Entreprises can reach new consumers around the world directly, and integrate more quickly and higher up the value chain, thanks to e-commerce and technologies such as 3D printing.


Standards have become a gateway for businesses to enter international markets. Certification of standards and regulations may include technical specifications required by producers in the supply chain or health, social or environmental standards demanded by consumers or governments.

Talk Business, Do Business

B2B meetings will be facilitated in the following sectors: Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs); tourism; specialty food, including tea and spices; processed food; apparel; rubber and manufacturing.

At WEDF 2015, organizations signed declarations of intent valued at US$ 80 million.

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SRI LANKA: Rs. 8.7 billion tender to construct four pipelines

Posted on 01 August 2016 by admin


The Government will next week award a tender valued at more than Rs. 8.7 billion for the construction of four pipelines to carry oil from the Colombo harbour’s Dolphin Pier to Kolonnawa. Bidders from India, Malaysia, China and the United States have been shortlisted to construct the pipelines, each six-and-a-half kilometres long, to replace the 69-year-old oil pipelines in use, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Chairman T.C. Jayasinghe said.

The Cabinet has given approval for the project and the tender will be awarded to the lowest bidder by the tender board on Friday, he said. Two pipelines are for jet and crude oil while the others are for refined petrol and diesel. “The existing pipelines are old and their capacity is less; hence, the transportation of oil takes long resulting in the CPC having to pay demurrage at times. There are also leaks in some places leading to wastage,” he explained.

The pipelines would run underground so there would be no logistical issues such as having to relocate people. The project was likely to be completed in one-and-a-half years, he said. Mr. Jayasinghe said the company which won the tender would have to undertake the US$ 60 million (Rs 8.7 billion) project using its own funds which the government would pay back in 12 years after a three-year grace period.

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Ceylon Chamber lines up a top panel to discuss PPP

Posted on 20 June 2016 by admin


‘Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2016,’ organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has lined up a top panel of experts from both the public and the private sector to discuss opportunities existing for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the country.

The panel discussion, titled ‘Private Public Partnerships – Getting Them Done, Getting Them Right,’ will be conducted at the session two of the summit which will be held on August, 2016 in Colombo.

Eran Wickramarathne, Deputy Minister of State Enterprises and Entrepreneurship, Gajendra Haldea, Advisor to the Government of Rajasthan, India, who once Headed the Secretariat for PPP and Infrastructure in the Planning Commission of India and Kamal Dorabawila, Principal Investment Officer ofthe IFC, who is responsible for its investments in energy and Infrastructure in the South Asian region will deliver the keynote speeches at the session.

Following the speeches, the trio will join Romesh David, President of the Transportation Group of John Keells Holdings PLC and Thilan Wijesinghe, Chairman, TWCorp, who will sit for a panel discussion, which would be moderated by Helani Galpaya, CEO of LIRNEasia, a pro-poor, pro-market think tank.

The session on PPPs is held in the backdrop of rising public spending of Sri Lanka, amidst low tax revenue. Experts says, PPPs are the best solution, the Sri Lankan government can adopt to meet infrastructure and other needs. PPPs are now recognized for their ability meet public policy challenges with private sector solutions. The Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2016 is held under the title of 'Focus. Act. Deliver’ and is expected to attract over 400 executives.

Eran Wickramarathne, Deputy Minister of State Enterprises and Entrepreneurship – Keynote speaker and panelist


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High level Austrian business delegation in Colombo

Posted on 10 May 2016 by admin

BUSINESSFollowing the successful state visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to Austria in February and his meeting with business leaders, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber is sending a 20 member High Level Business Delegation to Colombo to explore prospects for investment and enhanced trade. The delegation will be in Colombo from May 9 to14.

According to the Sri Lankan embassy in Vienna, said that the Austrian delegation, comprising businessmen from health care, hydraulic energy production electro-mechanical equipment and Services, waste-water management systems solutions in the fields of municipal drinking water and sewerage treatment, sea water de-salination, waste & energy management, irrigation technology, plant, pipeline apparatus and vessel and tank construction, communication and information systems for safety, welding suppliers and metal work will comprise the delegation. 

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber has organized the visit in collaboration with the Austrian Trade Commissioner in New Delhi and the Sri Lanka Embassy in Vienna.  The Austrian Business Delegation will hold meetings with their Sri Lankan counterparts and there will also be a networking session with businessmen hosted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.  The Delegation is scheduled to call on Cabinet Ministers and Senior Government Officials.

Austria is Sri Lanka's  5th largest trading partner in Europe. Total exports to Austria in 2015 amounted to US$ 28.09 million.

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Sri Lanka to host World Export Development Forum 2016

Posted on 06 May 2016 by admin

ForumDevelopment Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama yesterday uses a gavel gifted by the International Trade Centre to mark the countdown for the World Export Development Forum slated for October this year. ITC Executive Director Arancha González, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Badurdeen, Development Strategies and International Trade State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe and EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte look on – Pic by Upul Abayasekera

The World Export Development Forum (WEDF), the flagship event of the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC) will be held in Colombo, on 12-13 October 2016. 

The announcement was made yesterday by Minister of Development Strategies and international Trade Maiik Samarawickrama. ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez and Export Development Board Chairperson lndira Malwatte. Previous editions of WEDF have been held in Doha, Qatar (2015), Kigali, Rwanda (2014), Jakarta, Indonesia (2012), Istanbul, Turkey (2011) and Chongqing, China (2010).

Over 300 foreign delegates are expected along with an equal number of local participants. 

“ITC is extremely pleased that Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) will be hosting this year’s WEDF in Colombo,’ Ms. Gonzalez said. “With its central position in South Asia, at the crossroad of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has risen steadily to become a regional business hub. Convening the global trade and development community and business representatives in Colombo will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the best of Sri Lanka and allow us to talk business and do business.”

WEDF will bring together more than 600 policymakers. business leaders, and officials from trade and investment support institutions (TISI) and international organizations to discuss how to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth through trade. A series of business-to-business matchmaking events will also be held over the two-day meeting, allowing participants to create business linkages across sectors and across countries.

“Countries like Sri Lanka need to thrive on the export of products and services on the way to create vibrant economies,” Minister Samarawickrama said. “Hence, we are now on a new journey. Our new Government has brought in freedom, democracy, transparency and more importantly confidence on the part of the international business community. The decision by the ITC to hold the WEDF 2016 in Sri Lanka itself is a clear message that we are on the right path, symbolising the international recognition for the business environment that we have created.”

“Our way forward in exports is to go beyond the primary and traditional export basket to higher value innovative and original products and services,” EDB Chief Malwatte said. “EDB interaction with international business partners is crucial at this stage. WEDF B2B sessions are focusing towards achieving these national economic objectives through creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to actively participate in the global supply chain by identifying the competitive roles that we can play,” she added.

The theme of WEDF 2016, ‘Trade for Success: Connect. Compete, Change’, reflects the importance ITC and the Government of Sri Lanka attach to the role of enterprises in trade and job creation in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, SMEs form the backbone of the economy, representing over 90% of all business and contributing to two-thirds of global employment.

WEDF 2016 will focus on hot-button issues shaping business competitiveness, from emerging mega regional trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Trans Pacific Partnership to the opportunities and risks presented by the rise of the digital economy. Participants will also confront the issue of standards, another crucial element for entering new markets and achieving trade success. 

In the build-up to WEDF 2016, Ms. Gonzalez and Minister Samarawickrama also announced a series of training programs for Sri Lankan growers/producers and exporters on safety and quality standards as well as for young entrepreneurs through ITC’s SME Trade Academy platform. During WEDF 2016 a series of ‘In Focus’ sessions will be held to explore how young entrepreneurs can take their ideas to markets, how to help connect women entrepreneurs to markets. improving managing logistics in the supply chain, and how to go digital.

ITC has a Iong lasting partnership with Sri Lanka. It has supported the development of the private sector in areas such as export strategies, strengthening of trade and investment support institutions, market analysis and research, south-south trade promotion and non-tariff barriers.

Starting mid-2016, ITC will step up its work on trade policy, trade facilitation, and quality and value chain development to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lankan SMEs, including targeted support to women business owners in Sri Lanka.

– See more at:

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Tea Board in Rs 6.8 bn global tea promotion

Posted on 02 May 2016 by admin

The Sri Lanka Tea Board will spend over Rs 4.8 billion for 2016 and a further Rs.2 billion in 2017 to promote Sri Lankan tea globally,Plantations Minister Naveen Dissanayake said.

He was surprised to note that despite having US$ 60 million (around Rs. 9 billion) in the Tea Board promotion ‘kitty’ this amount was hardly used for reasons best known to the Tea Board.

 Minister Dissanayake

“How can you promote a brand like this.Now I have taken the initiative to globally promote tea and will launch a series of events targeting global promotions.”

The first of such events will take place end of May in major cities in China where the Minister himself will lead a delegation.

“I want to follow thisup with several promotions in the Russian Federation breakaway states where there is a demand for Sri Lankan tea.What is needed are promotions in this region which were never looked at before.”

In addition Ogilvy PR has been appointed to undertake the Below the Line (BTL) advertising and the Ministry will appoint several other PR firms for these promotions. Dissanayake said that though R&D is the key for promotions of Tea, Rubber, Coconut and Sugar Cane industries sadly this is a very gray area.

“In bid to have more R&D for these sectors I have also requested US$ 70 million from external funds though several donor agencies to offer to the four sector research centers.”

He said that the Tea Research Institute (TRI) has already launched a tea wine but they are unable to market it due to lack of funds and direction.

“Sri Lanka needs to export tea in a novel way such as iced tea and in value added form. This will attract the younger generation.”

The Minister identified National institute of Plantation Management (NIPM) as another neglected entity. “We are now planning to turn around this institution as a major education body supporting the education of the plantation sector. I am now talking to academics and will soon introduce NVQ level courses from NIPB. My ultimate objective is to make NIPM and NIBM less than one year.”

Commenting on the plantation companies and the wages of employees Dissanayake said that higher wages are one the cards. “This is something due for them.”

Asked if the Minister was keen to introduce tourism to the abandoned bungalows in state plantations he said he must give that thought more time.


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Why FTAs are important for South Asia – Dinesh Weerakkody

Posted on 12 March 2016 by admin



Over the next few decades, South Asia needs to grow its economies at a much faster pace to eradicate poverty.

Often changes in international markets can have a direct, positive or negative, impact on a country. Such an impact may be a result of exogenous shocks (climate change), large market failures (e.g. financial crisis, high volatility in world prices), international agreements (e.g. multilateral or regional trade agreements), unilateral policies of large economies (e.g. agricultural domestic support or biofuel mandates). 

While the effects of these changes vary across countries, depending on their trade specialisation, degree of openness, and adjustment capacities, the domestic redistributive impact among citizens in a particular country can be quite pronounced. 

However, there is ample evidence that poverty is not directly the result of a country’s share of trade. Rather poverty reflects low earning power, poor access to communal resources, poor health and education, powerlessness and vulnerability. It does not matter what causes these features so long as they do not exist, nor what relieves them if they can be relieved. 

Trade matters only to the extent that it affects the direct determinants of poverty and that, relative to the whole range of other possible policies it offers as an efficient policy lever for poverty alleviation. Trade liberalisation may have adverse consequences for some – including the poor – that should be avoided or managed to the greatest extent possible. However, the general belief is that trade liberalisation promotes growth, which in turn, supports poverty alleviation. 

In general, only a few people will end up as net losers. Trade policy should therefore generally not be closely manipulated with an eye on its direct poverty consequences, but set on a sound basis overall with recognition that some modification may be inevitable for political and other reasons with poverty being treated by general anti-poverty policies.

Trade barriers

More compelling is the dramatic upturn in GDP growth rates in India and China after they turned strongly towards dismantling trade barriers in the early 1990s. In both countries, the decision to reverse protectionist policies was not the only reform undertaken, but it was an important component. 

In the developed countries, trade liberalisation, which started earlier in the post-war period, was accompanied by other forms of economic opportunities for example, a return to currency convertibility, resulting in rapid GDP growth. 

Moreover, the argument that historical experience supports the case for protectionism is now flawed. The economic historian Douglas Irwin has challenged the argument that nineteenth-century protectionist policy aided the growth of infant industries in the United States. 

Nor should the promoters of free trade worry that trade openness results in no additional growth for some developing countries. Trade is only a facilitating device. If a country’s infrastructure is bad, or have domestic policies that prevent investors from responding to market opportunities such as licensing restrictions, very little progress can be achieved. 

Critics of free trade also argue that trade-driven growth benefits only the rich and not the poor. In India, however, after the economic and education reforms nearly 200 million people have come out of poverty. In China, which grew faster, it is estimated that more than 300 million people have moved above the poverty line since the reforms were initiated.

Faster economic growth

Poverty is still the biggest problem in South Asia; large sections of people in South Asia do not even have access to safe drinking water and to basic sanitation services. South Asia is extremely diverse in terms of culture, politics, and religion. Such diversity entails difficulties in promoting regional cooperation. In fact, the speed of regional cooperation in South Asia has been very slow compared to other regions.

There are three important areas, for promoting greater regional trade;

nFirst, is the need for strengthening of mutual surveillance across the region.

nSecond, countries in the region should share a common view of the future direction of the regional economy and develop concrete policy responses based on their future direction.

nThird, participate in global efforts to stabilise the international financial system.

Over the next few decades, South Asia needs to grow its economies at a much faster pace to eradicate poverty. They will need to strengthen and deepen their democracies and ensure the region is stable and secure.

But that can only be achieved, if South Asia works together and promotes more and more interregional trade because economic stagnation in one part of our region will only dampen prosperity in another. In addition, South Asia needs to ensure its financial system is stable and easy to access, and also foster a political climate that creates confidence in the region. 

In the final analysis, increased regional cooperation will not only boost trade and welfare and political capital but also prevent internal conflicts from spilling over national borders.

(The writer is a thought leader.)

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