More British firms eying Sri Lanka
 
 

increasing number of British companies are looking to operate in Sri Lanka following the change of regime, according the new British envoy in Colombo. "A lot of people feel like this is a moment of opportunity here and feel like a moment of opportunity also in the Sri Lanka-Britain relationship," incoming British High Commissioner James Dauris told a forum yesterday.

He added that it is now an economically ambitious time to further trade between the two countries, which are both experiencing strong growth.

British High Commission in Colombo Trade and Investment Head Gary Leslie said that highly technical construction, retail manufacturing and high-end services outsourcing are the sectors British companies are attempting to thrust into Sri Lanka with.

"There's a lot of interest in Sri Lanka but I have to respect their confidentiality until they inform their shareholders. Sri Lanka is an up and coming economy and with the Sri Lankan government, I always tell people to base themselves in Sri Lanka," he said.

He added that Sri Lanka is the easiest country to do business in the South Asian region and that the High Commission is also persuading British businesses to use Sri Lanka as the base to operate in South Asia and the Far East using the current and upcoming free trade agreements.

Dauris said that the High Commission will also be canvassing local companies that are ideal to partner with their British counterparts.

However, he stressed that attitudes of both nations must be aligned and that examples set by companies and business personalities can influence the thinking of countries.

"It's no secret that the relationship between our two governments had become difficult in the past two years... and couldn't see the trade potential fulfilled. Attitude counts for a lot. Companies and business leaders shape the way countries and people think," he noted.

Dauris also mentioned that he would like to see even more British companies, especially from the retail sector, enter the Sri Lankan market, as the disposable income levels of Sri Lankans increase.

"There are 100 British companies selling to Sri Lanka and 50 Sri Lankan companies selling there, but the balance of trade is heavily in favour of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is selling around 1.15 billion pounds and Britain is selling 150 million pounds," he said.

Meanwhile, he also praised the high quality of the Sri Lankan workforce, which has drawn high-tech British companies such as MillenniumIT and De La Rue, and said that Britain will continue to look for gifted Sri Lankan students to study in British universities.

He noted that 28 British universities have established a presence in Sri Lanka.(CW)

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