The 26th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka – Korea Business Council (SLKBC) of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was held on January 12, 2021 via MS Teams. The SLKBC was inaugurated on November 4, 1982, in Colombo, Sri Lanka at the request of the late Hon. Lalith Athulathmudali with the objective of promoting trade, investments, tourism and services between Sri Lanka and Korea.
Priyantha Mendis, Managing Director, Alpha Tours (Pvt) Ltd. (General Sales Agent for Korean Air in Sri Lanka & Maldives) was re-elected as the President of the Council for the year 2020/2021. John Shiran Dissanayake, Chairman, Transmarine (Pvt) Ltd, and Shamil Mendis – Chairman/ Managing Director, Spear International (Pvt) Ltd. were elected as Vice Presidents of the Council.
Mahen Kariyawasan serves as the Immediate Past President and the Founder President, Prof. Lakshman Watawala serve as a Honorary member.
Woonjin Jeong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka, stated, “As Ambassador of Korea, strengthening the commercial ties between the nations in harmony with the national policy is among our top priorities. It is noteworthy that amid this pandemic, Sri Lanka was the first South Asian country which held a nationwide election and Korea was the first country in the world to hold a nationwide election successfully”.
“The global economy including the Sri Lankan economy has experienced a negative impact since the covid-19 pandemic. Businesses have incurred grave losses due to the travel restrictions, disruptions in global supply chains and the imposition of numerous lockdowns. At this juncture, we will do the best to help achieve the economic goals of Sri Lanka together with the Sri Lanka-Korea business council members,” he also said.
His belief is that the Sri Lankan economy will bounce back by attracting new foreign investors as it has shown strength and resilience in spite of past setbacks. Sri Lanka has great potential for growth and provides ample business opportunities with its strategic location, natural resources and high quality human resources which are very complimentary with the capital and technology of Korea. Strengthening the economic cooperation is thus vital to unlock the economic potential of Sri Lanka.
“I invite Korean investors to explore opportunities especially in the key sectors including agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, LNG, digital economy and so on. There is more potential for the business opportunities to expand between our two countries. In this regard, I hope that this esteemed Council too will work tirelessly to take our trade and economic ties to the next level and the Embassy, as always, will render our utmost assistance to you and work with you every step of the way until we realize this mutual goal,” he also noted.
Priyantha Mendis, President of SLKBC reiterated that the main objectives of the Council is to promote trade and tourism between Sri Lanka and Korea, to promote investment to Sri Lanka and encourage joint ventures, and to conduct joint meetings with Korean business organizations between the two countries.
“The present Bilateral Trade between SL & Korea is around USD 400 Million today mainly in favor of Korea. Anyway, for the past 15 years Korean Government has offered employment opportunities to our youth on Manufacturing, Construction and Fisheries Sectors in Korea. At present there are around 30,000 Sri Lankans living in Korea, the biggest concentration of SL expatriate employees after ME. But compared to ME and other countries the earning capacity and living standards much higher in Korea. So in short, Korean Government is helping SL in a big way to earn much needed Foreign exchange to the country today,” Mr. Mendis said.
He added, “Also over 100 SL students are studying in Korean Universities many of them on scholarships given by Korean Government. With the commencement of direct services of Korea National Flag Carrier Korean Air to Sri Lanka in year 2013, the Korean Tourist arrivals jumped to 16,000 last year from around 4000 earlier. Anyway Korean Air temporarily suspends its scheduled services in mid of March 2020 due to Covid 19 Pandemic situation and will recommence its operations when the situation improves here and in Korea”.
He also added that the Per Capita income in Korea is around USD 30,000 which is one of the highest in the world and usually around 20% of Koreans Travel Overseas annually on vacation.
“This is a market that our Tourism Promotion Bureau should target. The council could not attend to much activity last year due to the Covid 19 Pandemic situation. A Seminar was conducted on Strategies to enhance Trade between SL and Korea in December 2019. The main objective of the seminar was to update the membership on the policy directions required to create an environment that will attract Korean investors more rapidly as well as to identify opportunities through preferential trade arrangements with Korea,” he also noted.
In his address he also thanked the founder President, Prof. Lakshman Watawala and the Immediate Past President, Mahen Kariyawasam for their continuous contribution to the Business Council
Abans Ltd., Ceyline Shipping Ltd., Senok Trade Combine (Pvt) Ltd., Shipping & Cargo Logistics (Pvt) Ltd. and Southern Tea Producers (Pvt) Ltd. were elected from the membership to serve on the Executive Committee of the Council.
Further details regarding membership of the Council could be obtained from the Secretariat of the Sri Lanka – Korea Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, No. 50, Navam Mawatha, Colombo 2. E-mail: [email protected] or Tel.: 011-5588861, 5588800.