President Maithripala Sirisena and Minister of Development and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama will lead the line-up of high-profile speakers including policy makers, trade experts, trade analysts and global business leaders, set to speak at the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), scheduled to be held on the 12th and 13th of October 2016 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), organizes the global summit. Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the ITC will also take the stage on the opening day of the event together with His Excellency, the President of Sri Lanka, to start off the 2-day event.
The first plenary of WEDF 2016 on the topic ‘When Regional Blocs Cross Oceans’, is one of the most anticipated sessions at the forum, with the panel of esteemed speakers consisting of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat – Patricia Scotland, Dr. Naushad Forbes - the President of the Confederation of Indian Industries, Khurran Dastgir Khan- Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce, Mahesh Amalean - Chairman of local apparel powerhouse MAS Holdings and Tony Nash - the CEO and Chief Economist of Complete Intelligence from Singapore. The panel will be moderated by geopolitical expert Amin Kazmin, Head of Office at the Financial Times Asia.
The session is set to explore research results from the Commonwealth Secretariat on the impact of mega regional blocs on developing countries, and the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on South Asian nations such as Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.
The second plenary session will focus heavily on the rapid digitization of trade and ecommerce success stories, with experts on the subject taking the stage as panellists. Hongbing Gao - VP of Alibaba Group and Director of AliResearch, Mano Sekaram –CEO and Co-Founder of award-winning software product engineering company 99X Technology, Md Sabur Khan – Chairman of Daffodil International University & Daffodil Group, Bangladesh, Brian Pallas - Chairman & Founder of The Opportunity Network, Italy and Sally Buberman – CEO of Wormhole IT, Argentina.
Day two of the conference will host the third plenary session titled ‘Standards, a Gateway to Global Markets’, with Upul Jayasooriya – Chairman of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Jagdish Singla – Director / VP of Nestlé Sri Lanka, Marion Jansen Chief Economist of the ITC, Dr. Lucian Cernat – ChiefTrade Economist of The European Commission and Lanre Akinola – Editor of African Business. These acclaimed international economists will present guidance for businesses, policymakers and standard-setters on the impact of standards and regulations for businesses in international value chains
The final plenary session of WEDF 2016 explores the concept of authenticity as a key for competitiveness in the tourism sector. Titled ‘Authenticity: The New Tourism Destination’, the panellistswill consist of Hiran Cooray – Chairman of Jetwing Sri Lanka, Pascal Khoo - Writer / Tourism Expert from Burma, Dr. Wolfgang Arlt – Director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute in Germany and Zoritsa Urosevic - Representative of the World Tourism Organization to the United Nations in Geneva.
There will be two In-Focus sessions beneficial for young entrepreneurs and start-ups. The first session will look at Trade Facilitation and Logistics in Regional Integration with Stefano Arganese - CEO of Central Eastern Europe and Middle Europe for DHL and Saman Kelegama - Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies of SriLanka (IPS), and will be moderated by Donia Hammami - Vice President of the ICC, France.
The second In-Focus session brings together Dulith Herath – CEO and Founder of Kapruka.com, Sri Lanka, Gian Luca Petrelli - Founder and CEO of BeMyEye, United Kingdom, Rizhlane El Alaoui - General Director of QuickTech, Morocco and Ruwindhu Peiris, a Managing Directors of Stax, a global strategy consulting firm with offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Colombo.
Additionally, there will be four How-To workshops targeting the SME sector on topics such as Young Entrepreneurs: From Ideas to Markets, Services for Female Entrepreneurs, Managing Logistics in the Supply Chain and How to Go Digital.
The closing session will once again see Minister Malik Samarawickrama taking the stage with Arancha Gonzalez, also joined by Sujeewa Senasinghe, State Minister of the Ministry of International Trade, Sri Lanka, who is championing the WEDF 2016 event together with the joint support of the EDB, the government and the private sector.
Indira Malwatte, Chairperson and Chief Executive of the EDB , commented on the calibre of speakers who are confirmed to speak at WEDF 2016, saying “We are excited that this year’s participants will have an opportunity to witness renowned industry experts, economists and business leaders at one forum, to learn, to discuss, and most of all to be part of significant changes to the future of trade in the region and across the globe.”
All plenary and other sessions align with this year’s conference theme, ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’, and is targeted to attract over 350 international delegates and 300 local business representatives and entrepreneurs, making the event an unprecedented benchmark for the export industry of the country.