Sri Lanka s Jaffna peninsula seeks more trade and investment

Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsula, which has emerged from a 30-year civil war, has untapped potential for greater investment and trade officials said.

"We welcome all the new businesses and investments," K Pooranachandran, president of the Jaffna chamber of commerce and industry said.

"We are here to help them. The place is very conducive for businesses and new developments."

The Jaffna peninsula, which has a population of about 600,000 population, is now looking up businesses in the area linking with other areas in the island.

"Trade links have developed strongly," Pooranachandran said. "There is a very good link with Colombo and Jaffna.

"If you come to Jaffna you can buy anything you want. Anything is available in Jaffna."

He said Jaffna has seen strong economic growth helped by major infrastructure projects in the area. Tourism has also developed fast.

However officials say the war affected area can also export out of the country.

"The area remains a virtually untapped market for exports," Sujatha Weerakoon, director general of Sri Lanka's Export Development Board said.

"Jaffna is good for agro related business, so lot of value addition can be done in food processing in order to cater to the increase demand for agro goods in the island and world."

She was speaking at the launch of Jaffna international trade fair (JITF) 2014 to be held for the fifth consecutive year.

The fair is to be held at the Duraiappah Stadium in Jaffna on from January 17 to 19, next year.

The exhibition will features the construction industry, hospitality industry, food, beverages and packaging, automobiles, ICT industry, financial services, apparel, agricultural, consumer goods.

Organizers say they expect over 250 local and international businesses to participate in fair. Last year over 50,000 people had visited the fair.

There will be several business forums, an investment forum and an education exhibition. Visiting business leaders are expected to form links with local enterprises. They also expect the participation from the diaspora.

"The area has a high cash flow where at least one member of the family or relations is living in overseas," Aasim Mukthar , general manager of Lanka Exhibition and Conference Services which is running the event said.
"The mobile penetration is also high due to lack of fixed connection in the area. So Jaffna is an ideal place to explore new businesses."