There is a great potential in Sri Lanka and it is necessary that more awareness should be created in Japan about Sri Lanka, said Dr. Akio Mimura, the leader of the high powered Japanese delegation comprising 59 chairman, chief executive officers and leading officials of some of the largest, most important and best known Japanese companies visiting Sri Lanka and participating at the Sri Lanka- Japan Economic forum organized by the BOI at the Shangri-La Hotel recently.
Addressing the press conference held after the forum Dr. Mimura further said that it was a good decision on their part to visit Sri Lanka and that they were able to rediscover the country. He further added: “ I also noted the high GDP per capita by the standarded of South Asia. Also important are the Free Trade Agreements with other countries”. Fortunately the Japan Chamber of Commerce was a huge organization and said that he would convey the information gathered during his stay including the messages from Sri Lanka’s the President and the Prime Minister.
And the event was of great significance as this was the first time in recent years that a Japanese business delegation consisting of companies of this significance had come to Sri Lanka to evaluate opportunities for investment and trade. It is also a reflection of the growing confidence that the international investor community holds about Sri Lanka as well as their appreciation of the efforts made by the country to improve its business and investment environment.
The delegation was led by Dr. Akio Mimura Senior Advisor, Honorary Chairman of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, assisted among others by leading business leaders such as Mr. Takanobu Ito, Director and Advisor of Honda Motor Co., Ltd, Mr. Masami Iijima, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mitsui & Co. Ltd, Mr. Masaru Onishi Director, Chairman, Japan Airlines, Mr. Yoichi Kobayashi, Vice Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation, Mr. Muneo Kurauchi, Advisor, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd, Mr. Shigeki Dantani, Executive Vice Chairman, Sojitz Corporation, Mr. Taku Morimoto, CEO, Mitsui & Co (Asia Pacific) Pte Ltd, Mr. Hiroshi Sakuma, Executive Vice President, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mr. Kazunori Konishi, Managing Director, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries India Private Ltd, Mr. Naoki Izumi, Chairman and Managing Director, Marubeni Corporation, Marubeni India Private Limited, Mr. Sei Kosaka, Director, Komatsu Store., Co. Ltd, Mr. Fumio Hoshi, Senior Advisor, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
The delegation represented a wide cross section of the Japanese economy from sectors including heavy industry, Automobile, Airline, Banking, infrastructure, services, energy and machinery.
At the Forum Mr. Dumindra Ratnayaka, Chairman, of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, welcomed the Japanese visitors and introduced details about Sri Lanka’s business and investment environment and the strong commitment in attracting investment from leading Japanese companies. He welcomed them to become the country’s economic partners in development. Also addressing the audience were Mr. Rajendra Theagarajah, the Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Akio Mimura, Chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mr. Daya Weththasinghe, President of the Sri Lanka-Japan Business Co-operation Committee.
Japanese investments have had a significant presence in the country for several decades and are an integral part of the national economy of Sri Lanka.
Kenichi Suganuma, Ambassador for Japan in Sri Lanka and his counterpart Prof. Ganganath Dissanayake, Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Japan also participated at the Forum.
The Keynote address was delivered by Hon. Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade who was overall responsible for the organizing and hosting of Sri Lanka Japan Economic Forum.
At the forum the BOI made a strong case to the Japanese side for investing in Sri Lanka and the presentation was made by Mrs. Champika Malalgoda, Executive Director – Research & Policy Advocacy.
The final event was a Panel Discussion which provided an insight into doing business in Sri Lanka and the participants were Dr. Indrajith Coomaraswamy, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Mr. Duminda Ariyasinghe, Director General of BOI, Mr. Mangala Yapa, Board Director of BOI, Mr. Dr. Toru Takehara, Chairman, Colombo Dockyard. The moderator was Mr Rajendra Theagarajah, Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
This Forum is of considerable importance since Sri Lanka’s economy is increasingly integrated to the growth taking place the Asian region. Japan has traditionally been a very close partner of Sri Lanka with known establishments such as Tokyo Cement, Colombo Dockyard Public Ltd and Noritake Porcelain Pvt Ltd.
In addition Sri Lanka and Japan have signed investment protection and avoidance of double taxation agreements.
Business relations are further facilitated by the presence of two Japanese banks namely Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Bank having signed MOUs with the BOI to co-operate on promoting Sri Lanka to Japanese entrepreneurs.
It can therefore be said that the visit to Sri Lanka of these leading Japanese enterprises augurs well and will strengthen Japanese investments in the Island in the future while at the same time reflecting the growing investor confidence internationally for Sri Lanka.
(Courtesy : Media Department Board of Investment of Sri Lanka)