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Robust exports to get boost via Expo 2012

Sep 6, 2011 4:51:40 PM - www.ft.lk

Despite crises in most world markets, the Government yesterday remained upbeat on prospects for Sri Lanka’s exports which have grown by 35% so far to reach $ 5 billion giving optimism that end 2011 figure would top $ 10 billion.

“On the back of 21% growth in exports in 2010, current year’s exports have grown by 35% in the first half and by end of this year we are confident of earnings topping $ 10 billion, which is above the target of $ 9.3 billion despite difficulties in global markets,” EDB Chairman and Chief Executive Janaka Ratnayake revealed yesterday.
This optimism was shared at the launch of Sri Lanka Expo 2012 logo as well as the international marketing exercise for the mega international exhibition and symposium on exports, tourism and investments from 28 – 30 March at the BMICH. It will be supported by a host of other state institutions and the private sector.
“Sri Lanka Expo 2012 will be an excellent platform for the country’s overall efforts to realise the target of $ 15 billion in exports earnings by 2015,” Ratnayake said at the ceremony at which chief guest was Commerce and Industry Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and attended by diplomats, exporters and trade chambers. He also said that Sri Lanka Expo 2012 was timely as it will showcase President Mahinda Rajapaksa Government’s positioning of Sri Lanka as a hub for commerce, shipping, aviation, energy, and knowledge.
“Post-war Sri Lanka is on a high and sustainable growth path and we are confident of achieving 8% GDP growth this year and beyond,” EDB Chief added.  Sri Lanka had its first ever Expo fair in 1992 followed by another in 2004.
Ratnayake said towards achieving the $ 15 billion target, Sri Lanka needs to find new markets whilst consolidating orders in EU and the US, which currently buys 60% of Made in Sri Lanka products.  “In attracting 1000 buyers we will focus on newer markets such as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, South East Asia, Africa among others.         
Around 300 Sri Lankan companies via seven high growth product and services categories will showcase the diversity, capacity and potential of the export sector. Of the 1,000 trade visitors earmarked, 70% will be for sourcing, 20% for investments and 10% for tourism.
Sri Lanka and the Expo 2012 are being positioned and marketed as the “Partnering  with the hub of Asia” to lure buyers to source from Sri Lanka as well as investors to set up manufacturing facilities in the country to supply South Asian and other markets via Sri Lanka.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry under which EDB functions will work in partnership with the Economic Development Ministry, External Affairs Ministry, and Plantation Ministry whilst EDB will also seek support from the Board of Investment, Sri Lanka Tourism, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, SriLankan Airlines, chambers of commerce, and diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka and overseas to make Sri Lanka Expo 2012 a success.
The symposium on exports, tourism and investments, planned concurrently with the Expo, will be held at the new performance centre at former Nomad’s Grounds. There will be international speakers whilst foreign participants will be charged $ 250 and locals Rs. 20,000. EDB is also planning to organise 3 nights accommodation for foreign visitors to the events, arrange networking, business meetings and field/factory visits on request. Foreign Ministerial delegations and journalists will be invited as well.
The global marketing of Expo 2012 will commence from later this month at various events in which Sri Lanka had previously confirmed participation. They include Women’s Fair Daily in New York, Anuga Fair in Germany, GTEX in Dubai and dedicated roadshows in UK and the Middle East among others in addition to advertising in trade and business press.

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