High Commissioner H.E. Rohitha Bogollagama met with The Lord Davies of Abersoch CBE, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Sri Lanka
High Commissioner Rohitha Bogollagama met with The Lord Davies of Abersoch CBE, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Sri Lanka on 14 December 2023 at Devonshire House in Mayfair, London. The discussions were mainly focused on enhancing economic, trade, investment and tourism matters which are of interest for both Sri Lanka and the UK.
Expressing his appreciation to Lord Davies of Abersoch for his service as the Trade Envoy for Sri Lanka since 2020, the High Commissioner briefed him on the latest grounds of the IMF bailout package and its impact on the political and economic stability of the country which has been achieved in the short-run after tackling various hardships with the resilience, confidence and leadership of the President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Commending on Sri Lanka’s resurgence, Lord Davies expressed his confidence that the approved IMF bailout package, relaxed exchange controls, reduction in the level of bureaucracy within certain systems and sustained political stability in the country would enhance the investor confidence. As a result, there is expected to be a noteworthy influx of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), particularly in the apparel, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and tourism sectors.
High Commissioner Bogollagama emphasised the incentives, liberty and encouragement given to the foreign direct investors by Sri Lanka within the existing the regulatory frameworks including the relaxation in the repatriation of capital and profits from projects under the BOI, restructuring of State-Owned-Enterprises and projects in Colombo Port City which would be an economic zone of its own.
In order to assist the efforts of the GoSL in improving the ease of doing business, facilitating seamless cross-border trade and customs controls etc, it was discussed to receive UK’s technical assistance and sharing of expert experiences of His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC. This assistance will focus on implementing a ‘Single Window,’ as well as capacity building in the digitalization and automation of customs procedures in Sri Lanka, under the guidance of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Discussing the boom in the tourism industry, High Commissioner Bogollagama discussed the notable rise in tourist arrivals, exceeding 1.3 million, with nearly 120,000 visitors from the UK. He emphasized the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism assets, particularly in luxury boutique hotels, highlighting the country as a hidden paradise attracting upscale travellers worldwide. Re-iterating the need for having increased frequent direct flights between Colombo and London, he requested the assistance of the office of Lord Davies and the UK side for resuming British Airways operations in Sri Lanka and also to secure additional slots for SriLankan Airlines in Gatwick airport which would also well serve the 700,000 of substantial British-Sri Lankan population living in the UK.
Adding to that High Commissioner Bogollagama also mentioned the possibility of reconnecting Scottish population with Scottish tea trails in the upcountry in Sri Lanka which has a long-lasting historical ties embedded with era of introduction of plantation industries by the Scottish planters in Sri Lanka.
High Commissioner Bogollagama also made it an opportunity to share the details of the visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, the Princess Royal to Sri Lanka which is remarkable moment in the long standing bilateral relations with the UK and Sri Lanka.
Lord Davies also appreciated the Sri Lanka’s Green University built in a spacious location with State of the Art Technology, is inspiring and a great strength of Sri Lanka which can be showcased world as one of the best examples as the importance given to the education sector of Sri Lanka.
Discussing on Sri Lanka’s path to converting into nation powered by renewal energy, High Commissioner Bogollagama mentioned that a greater focus of the Government is given on improving solar and wind power plants including the intended 200 MW floating solar power plant to be built on Samanalawewa which would cater to most of the energy requirement of the country. He further emphasised that Sri Lanka’s interest in manufacturing Electric Vehicles with the assistance from the industry leaders like the UK.
Not only improving Sri Lanka’s exports to the UK which records at a value of close to US $ 1 Billion per year, he highlighted the importance of procuring high quality machineries, plants and equipment which are vital for Sri Lankan manufacturing industries including apparel, agriculture, food processing, pharmaceuticals and that should be equally promoted as imports from the UK.
The discussions also focused other key matters of importance such as the issue on qualifying to the ‘Rules of Origin’ criteria for apparel exports under the UK’s DCTS with close collaboration of the UK Department for Business and Trade and tapping into the employment opportunities in Care-giver sectors and Seasonal workers into the farming industry in the UK etc.
High Commission of Sri Lanka
14 December 2023