Seated (L to R): Patrick Rodrigo (Past President SLIBC), Anushka Wijesinha – Guest Speaker,(Chief Economist, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce), Harimawan Suyitno, (Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia in Sri Lanka), Kalinga Wijesekara (President SLIBC/ Serendib Flour Mills (Pvt) Ltd), Cherryl Rodrigo (Secretariat - Ceylon Chamber of Commerce), Rumi Reyal (Vice President SLIBC/ Geocyc (Pvt) Ltd)., Moiz Mohamedally (Vice President. SLIBC/ Avalon Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd). Standing (L to R): Chaminda Rajapakse (Committee Member SLIBC/ Civaro Lanka (Pvt) Ltd)., Sudharshana Jayatillaka (Committee Member SLIBC/ KALBE International PTE. Ltd)., Hussain S. Hashim (Past President SLIBC), D. V. Jayaweera (Committee Member SLIBC/ Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd)., Mohamed Bashith (Committee Member SLIBC/ Mansel Ceylon (Pvt) Ltd).
Absent : Jatinder Biala (Past President), Anton Godfrey (Past President), T. Someswaran (Past President), Nihal Gooneratne (Past President) & W. A. D. Wijayasiri (Committee Member SLIBC/ Daya Constructions (Pvt) Ltd).
The Sri Lanka – Indonesia Business Council (SLIBC) which functions under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce held its 23rd Annual General Meeting on July 29th, at at Ripta Loka Hall at the premises of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia.
SLIBC was established in 1991 with a view to promote Trade, Investment, Tourism and Services between the two Countries.
Anushka Wijesinha, Chief Economist of the Ceylon Chamber addressing the audience encouraged the private sector to look at Product Design Innovation & being more open to International Trade.
“Innovation is the key part for an economy to grow wider. We should focus on Innovation in Designs and Processes. Product design in Innovation is something that often gets missed. The beauty of Product Design Innovation is that you design and certify once and you build and sell for millions. It requires less R&D but it has a huge catalytic impact on taking us into new paths. Reversing some of the negative impacts from the past and the present requires some difficult reforms. But as a country we are going to have to quickly and systematically re-orient our trade and investment policies,” said Anushka.
“Over the last decade or so we have slipped back substantially on trade openness. And that’s why today I wanted to focus on Sri Lanka being more open to the world. Trade, exports plus imports, now forms a much smaller share of our GDP than ever before. We used to be a nation where trade formed close to 80 percent of our GDP around 2004. By 2015 this had fallen to 55 percent. Let’s compare that to some other leading economies in the region that are doing well. Vietnam’s trade to GDP ratio is now around 170 percent. Malaysia is 150 percent. Thailand is 120 percent. And of course Singapore, an outlier, is at 350 percent. But all of this indicates the degree to which their economies and their growth is actually driven by international trade. We are a small country with a small domestic market and without International trade we really cannot achieve high growth.”
Harimawan Suyitno, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia in Sri Lanka and the Patron of the Council graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Addressing the Members, the ambassador congratulated the newly elected Committee.
“Our two countries are committed to increase our total trade volume to benefit both countries. In 2015, our total trade reached more than US$460 million, which fluctuated during the past 5 years. It shows that Indonesia and Sri Lanka still have a long way to go to achieve the target of US$ 1 billion bilateral trade. Indonesia looks forward to welcome you all to further explore and benefit from Indonesia as one of the major economies in G-20”, said the ambassador.
Kalinga Wijesekara, Head of Marketing & Communications, Serendib Flour Mills (Pvt) Ltd. was elected as the President of SLIBC for the Year 2016 – 2017. In his address, Kalinga said, the business council is focused in promoting trade, services and business between the countries and in particular to promote exports from Sri Lanka to Indonesia, to encourage the establishment of joint ventures in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, exchange information on trade and investment & tourism between the two countries. Wijesekara also made a kind request to the ambassador to conduct Joint Business Matchmaking Meetings between business communities of both the countries.