First row - seated from left: Sri Lanka - France Business Council Vice President Senaka Amerasinghe, Sri Lanka - France Business Council President Asanka Ratnayake, French Ambassador Jean - Martin Schuh, Sri Lanka- France Business Council Immediate Past President Dilipan Tyagarajah, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Secretariat Lakni Dahanayaka, Sri Lanka- France Business Council Vice President Samantha Rajapaksha. Committee members in the second row Pic by Waruna Wanniarachchi
By Zahara Zuhair
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Sri Lanka-France Business Council, hosted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) was held recently, appointing Asanka Ratnayake as the President and Senaka Amerasinghe and Samantha Rajapaksha as Vice Presidents for the year 2016-2017.
Addressing the gathering, Ratnayake said that there are many benefits that can be gained from world-class French companies mainly in terms of advanced technology, world-class engineering solutions and other business practices.
“We will work towards creating the necessary platforms and infrastructure to attract the French companies to start operations here in Sri Lanka. France is world’s sixth largest economy, in terms of GDP and one of the most technologically-advanced countries. For Sri Lanka, France is an important trading partner,” he said.
He said that positive changes in the Sri Lankan government’s policies are welcomed by the international community and that in this background the Sri Lankan business community too has a greater responsibility to play.
“They need to maximize from the current opportunities before them and generate revenue and employment generating activities to support these efforts,” he said.
He added that due to positive changes in Sri Lanka, the relationship of Sri Lanka with the European Union (EU) has improved considerably and he hopes that this will result in improved relationship resulting in increased trade.
He added they will work closely with Export Development Board (EDB) and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Paris to enhance exports from Sri Lanka to France.
The trade position between the two countries for the years 2015-16 has earned approximately US $ 191 million as export earnings to Sri Lanka compared to US $ 116 million earned by France by exporting goods to Sri Lanka. Accordingly, in 2015, the trade balance between the two countries stood at US $ 75 million, in favour of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s main exports to France are apparel and clothing, rubber articles, coffee, tea and spices,
“I did some research to find out about the trade between Bangladesh and France, just for a comparison. The the latest figures show that Bangladesh exports goods worth US $ 2. 4 billion to France and imports US $ 3.3 billion worth goods. This clearly shows the opportunity Sri Lanka could exploit,” he added.
With regard to tourism, arrivals have increased by 9.2 percent to 86,000 visitors for the year 2015.
The Sri Lanka- France Business Council was established in 2004 with 40 members with the main objective of promoting trade, investment and tourism between the
two countries. At present it has 75 establishments as members.