Sri Lanka business executives are exploring trade and investment opportunities in the Philippines after the Sri Lanka-Philippine Business Council in Colombo recently organized a high-level CEO Breakfast Forum with a theme dubbed as “Business in Asia and Beyond” at the Galidari Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka in a recent report of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade and Investment Center – New Delhi.
Participated in by over 130 CEOs and top Sri Lanka business figures, the breakfast meeting discussed and focused on the Philippines as an attractive trade and investment destination and explored high potential opportunities between the two countries for business cooperation, according to PTIC-New Delhi Commercial Counsellor Michael Alfred V. Ignacio.
The panel of speakers was composed of Sri Lanka Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Philippine Commercial Counsellor to New Delhi, Michael Alfred Ignacio, Unilever Sri Lanka Chairman Mr. Carl Cruz, a Filipino, ADB Country Head Mrs Sri Widowati, Lakshman Jayasekera of the Western Regional Megalopolis Project, top businessman and Industrialist Harry Jayawardena and Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Sri Lanka Central Bank Deputy Governor. Ambassador Vicente Vicencio Bandillo, Philippine Ambassador in Dhaka, Bangladesh which has concurrent jurisdiction over Sri Lanka, was also present to give support to the exclusive business gathering. “We see much potential in trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, and much has to be done to increase the bilateral trade between the two countries, currently standing at around US$40 million,” said Ambassador Bandillo, who recently joined a high-level business delegation from Colombo in Manila. “We recognise and laud the efforts of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Colombo and the Sri Lanka Philippine Business Council for the consistent strong interest shown in representing the Sri Lanka business community to do business with the Philippines, which culminated in the signing of an MOU for stronger business cooperation between the Council and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”
Speaking during the panel discussions, Commercial Counsellor Michael Alfred V. Ignacio, who heads the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in New Delhi, as the official representative of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry in the south Asia region, presented the strategic advantages of partnership with the Philippines for Sri Lanka businesses looking to expand to and access overseas markets both for high potential investments and trade.
“The Philippine government actively invites Sri Lanka businesses to explore strategic opportunities being offered by the Philippines, such as looking into investments in its 485 economic zones, and to take advantage of the country’s foothold in major markets in Asia Pacific and the Americas due to its strategic location in the far East,” Ignacio added.
In Sri Lanka, the Philippine government is represented by Honorary Consul Hugh Sriyal Dissanayake, a well-respected and highly successful shipping magnate in Sri Lanka. Mr. Dissanayake founded the Sri Lanka-Philippines Business Council composed of top Sri Lanka businessmen in 2014. The Council regularly organized a top level delegation with the objective of strengthening business ties between the two countries from the private sector perspective.
“We see great potential in developing strong economic ties between the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and the business council membership continues to grow reflecting the strong interest for Sri Lanka companies to work with the Philippines as a trading partner judging from the highly progressive economic developments in the country which we have seen for the past three years during our business missions.” said Honorary Consul Dissanayake.
Sri Lanka business top executives discuss trade and investment opportunities in the Philippines through high-level business forum in Colombo. In photo (from left to right): Sri Lanka Philippine Business Council President Mr. Ravi de Silva, Philippine Trade and Investment Center Commercial Counsellor Michael Alfred V. Ignacio, Unilever Sri Lanka Chairman Mr. Carl Cruz, Sri Lanka Trade and Industry Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Philippine Ambassador to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka Hon. Vicente Bandillo, and Business and Philippine Honorary Consul in Colombo Mr. Hugh Sriyal Dissanayake.