- 20-member delegation in Colombo for 14th Council Meeting of TIFA
- Notes challenge looking ahead for Sri Lanka is not just one of survival but one of growth
- Says US companies and investors represent an answer to SL’s challenge of growth
- Points out deterring US investment in SL has been a lack of understanding of local regulatory requirements
The United States (US) coming to Sri Lanka to discuss bilateral trade and investment speaks not only to the resilience of the Sri Lankan people but also to the hard work of Sri Lanka’s dedicated public servants, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung said.
Addressing the 14th Council Meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in Colombo yesterday, Chung noted that the challenge looking ahead for Sri Lanka is not just one of survival but one of growth.
The TIFA discussions coincide with Sri Lanka and the US marking 75 years of bilateral relations.
Questioning on how Sri Lanka can not only weather the crisis but also strengthen the regulatory and economic bedrock for enduring and self-sustaining growth, where economic governance goes hand in hand with democratic governance, she noted the government has responded to this challenge with a proactive approach, which is by launching a series of ongoing initiatives that encompass digitalisation, anti-corruption measures and support for market-driven growth.
According to Chung, American companies and investors represent another answer to Sri Lanka’s growth challenge.
While the US is Sri Lanka’s largest export market, representing a pathway for export-oriented growth to take off here, in addition to US $ 270 million in assistance provided last year, the US businesses have invested over US $ 230 million in Sri Lanka in 2022.
“This means more local service sector and R&D jobs for Sri Lankans in areas including information technology and apparel. The US direct investment in Sri Lanka has steadily grown over the last 10 years and there will be more and more US businesses interested in bringing quality investment with good returns for Sri Lanka,” said Chung. However, one of the factors deterring the US investment has been a lack of understanding of the Sri Lankan regulatory requirements.
“The US companies want to invest but often don’t know whom to talk to file paperwork or where to get the correct information. Let me assure you, as a fellow public servant, navigating the bureaucratic maze is a challenge in the US as well.
But if Sri Lanka can successfully showcase a streamlined, transparent and digitised investment climate, it will attract quality investments from the US that will open previously untapped potential in the Sri Lankan market,” she said. The discussions on the TIFA between the US and Sri Lanka are taking place after a four-year hiatus.
To participate in the 14th Council Meeting of the TIFA, a 20-member delegation arrived in the island nation yesterday. The 2023 discussions will cover areas that will help boost collaboration between the two countries.