In a major renewal of its economic cooperation with Sri Lanka, World’s ICT innovation leader has announced that it is ready to form a joint Business Council with Sri Lanka for the first time, as revealed on dEC.04-and Lankan ICT start-ups have received a breakthrough invitation to showcase themselves at one of world’s top-tier start-up events in 2015.
“It is time that we establish a Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council for B2B activities. Such a mechanism will kick-start the process. We are also looking forward to see SME level Sri Lankan ICT BPM and business start-ups at the 2015 ‘Slush’ event in Helsinki” said an upbeat Matti Anttonen, Finnish Deputy Minister of External Economic Relations & Finnish Under-Secretary of State on dEC.04 in Colombo.
Finnish Deputy Minister Anttonen, who was leading the first ever Finnish business delegation to Sri Lanka was addressing Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce during his courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen at the Ministry of industry and Commerce, Colombo. Joining Minister Bathiudeen were two of his top officials- Bandula Egodage, Chairman & CEO-EDB and RDS Kumararatne, DG-Department of Commerce.
The first ever high level trade & business delegation to Sri Lanka from the World’s ICT leader Finland, the team consisted of Rauli Suikkanen (Delhi based Roving Ambassador of Finland to Sri Lanka), Pertti Ikonen (aide for trade coordinator/MFA), Ulpu Koskinen (First Secretary/Office of the Roving Ambassador), Janne Hirvonen (Attache, South Asia Unit/MFA), Siv Ahlberg (Director, Finnpartnership), Leena Osterberg (Head of Finpro Regional Office, New Delhi), Anand Sethi (Senior Advisor (PhD), Finnfund) and Jouni Aitamaa (Director, Outotec Corporation, Sri Lanka).
“As for Sri Lanka’s growth, the positive thing we see is that things could only get better here! The business atmosphere in Sri Lanka is very good and encouraging. My delegation had a very good series of meetings in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka tourism is on our radar. We are no 9 in global Doing Business Index” said Finnish Deputy Minister Anttonen, and added: “Our economy, after a little stagnation has started to grow again. As for Finnish investments to Sri Lanka, there is growing interest. I suggest it is time that we establish Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council for B2B activities. Such a mechanism will kick-start the process together with private sectors at both ends. We are also looking forward to see SME level Sri Lankan ICT BPM and business start-ups at the ‘Slush’ event held on 2015 November 18-19 in Helsinki. Slush is the focal point for Eurasian IT start-ups and tech talent to meet with top-tier international influencers, investors and media and is backed by such successful innovators as Rovio, Supercell and MySQL. Sri Lankan IT and business services can promote their ventures at Slush.”
The Nordic powerhouse Finland is the World’s ICT Innovation Leader is also the lead producer and user of information and communication technology (ICT) in the world and ranks No 1 in the Legatum Prosperity Index. The $ 195 B economy also was the birthplace of such global brands as Nokia, and Nokia Siemens Networks, F-Secure (IT sector), and Viking Line (shipping).
“Your visit to Sri Lanka and also the proposal to establish first Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council will create the much needed new platform of economic cooperation for both countries and will boost bilateral trade” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “We thank you for your renewed on Sri Lanka. We are focusing on a globally competitive industrial development effort in Sri Lanka as per the vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa backed by market oriented policies. Even our trade policy with liberalised tariff structure is focused on hub focused development. Partnering with Finland, specifically with Finnish investors will open the door for both parties for win-win outcomes. Finnish investors can invest here and use our regional Free Trade Agreements such as ISFTA and PFTA to access the growing South Asian markets while Sri Lanka could benefit from Finnish funds and crucial tech transfers. With bilateral trade at a mere $28 Mn, both countries largely remain virgin markets to each other and it’s time we move to explore these unrealised potentials.”
According to the Department of Commerce, Sri Lanka’s trade with Finland has been fluctuating for the last few years and in 2013, and reported $28 Mn in 2013, with exports taking $16.05 Mn. Tea is the main item exported to Finland (55% in 2013) followed by apparel.
Rauli Suikkanen (Delhi based Roving Ambassador of Finland to Sri Lanka), addressing Minister Bathiudeen said: “This is the first time that a Deputy Finnish Minister is visiting Sri Lanka. A Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council will promote economic cooperation. Powerful Finnish institutions such as FinFund, FinPro can support in financing and facilitation in this regard.”
Sri Lanka’s leading import from Finland, mobile cellular phones, saw their peak in 2010 and from 2011 is overtaken by marine propulsion engines and electric generating sets. Sri Lanka is a GSP Beneficiary Country under EU GSP Scheme, which gives an added advantage for Sri Lankan exports to Finland.