Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance, chaired the above forum on 31st January 2022 at the Ministry of Finance. Denis Chaibi, Ambassador for European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Co-chaired the meeting. Namal Rajapaksa – Minister of Youth & Sports, Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology, D V Chanaka – State Minister for Aviation and Export Zones Development, Tharaka Balasuriya – State Minister of Regional Cooperation also participated in this discussion.
The European Union was represented by Holger Seubert, Ambassador, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Sri Lanka; Eric Lavertue, Ambassador, Embassy of France in Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Tania Gonggrijp, Ambassador, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , Sri Lanka; Franceso Perale, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Italy, in Sri Lanka; Arnaud Lion, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium (based in India); Jean-Alexandre Egea, Economic Counsellor, Embassy of France in Sri Lanka; Thorsten Bargfrede, Deputy Head of Mission for the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives also Co-ordinated this event.
Eng. Raja Edirisuriya ,Chairman – Board of Investment delivered the opening remarks and gave an outline of the over view of the economic situation , foreign investment trend in 2021 and the latest measures and regulations to support foreign investment.
In conclusion the Chairman BOI stated, “Doing business in Sri Lanka has now returned to normalcy, despite what the country went through with the pandemi”.
He further stated, “the BOI looks forward to working closely with the EU to facilitate the existing investors as well as to encourage the existing companies to re-invest and expand their operations in Sri Lanka”.
This was followed with a speech by Denis Chaibi, Ambassador for the European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives who spoke of the bilateral trade and EU investment in Sri Lanka. He stated, “this kind of dialogue is an important forum to solve the issues of EU investors and retain them in Sri Lanka in the long run”. He also stated, “the EU would like to make Sri Lanka an attractive investment destination for potential investors from the EU”.
The matters discussed at the dialogue comprised of the foreign exchange crisis in Sri Lanka, the need for a better consistency regarding investment and tax policies, the need for a streamlined, clearer and easy process to establish a company in Sri Lanka, positioning Sri Lanka as a transport and logistic hub, promoting public private partnerships to boost EU Investment in Sri Lanka, improve the trade facilitation to increase the competitiveness and efficiency of the economy, modernizing the health sector.
Senior Government officials led by S. R. Attygala, Secretary to the Treasury, respective line agencies including Central Bank of Sri Lanka, National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), Registrar of Companies, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka Customs, Department of Commerce and BOI participated in the discussion.
The EU-Sri Lanka Investor Dialogue is a facilitation forum that was launched originally by the BOI in 2014, in close collaboration with the European Union Delegation in Sri Lanka. Hence it has been an effective platform for existing investors from the EU to discuss issues faced by the companies with Senior Government officials in order to find solutions.
The European Chambers of Commerce in Sri Lanka(ECCISL) and the Delegation of German Industry of Commerce (AHK), along with the Deutsche Bank and leading companies from the EU such as: Michelin (Camso Loadstar). Diesel & Motor Engineering Plc, (DIMO) B Braun, CMA CGM, Haffle International, OTV Veolia, Calamansi Cove Villa project (Jet Wings Hotel) Baurs and Hapag-loyd, also participated in the dialogue.
Both sides agreed to continue this dialogue on a regular basis, as well as to discuss issues faced by investors from the EU on one to one and arrange for technical sessions with the relevant agencies and respective EU Missions to follow up and to make the facilitation more effective.