”Royal Norwegian Embassy look forward to continuing the partnership with the Sri Lanka – NORDIC Business Council and supporting Sri Lanka on its development journey” – Ambassador of Norway in Sri Lanka
The 19th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka – NORDIC Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, was held on 21st September, 2020. At the meeting Prasath Mahalingam of 99X Technology Limited was elected unanimously as the President of the Council.
The Ambassador of Norway in Sri Lanka, Trine Joranli Eskedal, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Addressing the gathering, the Ambassador stated that “Sri Lanka is a gateway to almost 3 billion people in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and is located close to some of the busiest trading routes in the world. The country is therefore well positioned to become a leading trade and maritime hub in Asia. The Ambassador noted that the promotion of business cooperation between Norway and Sri Lanka, including increased trade and investment, is one of her key priorities.
‘The Sri Lankan – Norwegian bilateral relationship has withstood the test of time and is stronger today because it has always been based on mutual respect and cooperation. On this occasion, I want to make special mention of the ‘Match-Making Programme’ funded by NORAD, and very successfully implemented by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, a few years ago. This project aimed at encouraging Norwegian businesses to invest and initiate commercial co-operation with Sri Lankan partners. Over a 15-year period, it mobilised interest amongst 330 Norwegian SMEs in commercial operations with and in Sri Lanka. This programme had its roots in the Embassy support for the Hambantota Integrated Rural Development programme carried out from 1979-1999. Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which is managed by the Norwegian Central Bank, had a total of USD 114 million investments in Sri Lankan stocks at the end of 2019, investing in 20 Sri Lankan companies.
The Ambassador further noted that at a time when traditional development co-operation is on the decline, increasing trade and commercial co-operation will emerge as prime areas of interaction between Norway and Sri Lanka. There are many new opportunities for Sri Lanka to expand trade and investment by identifying new niche markets and products. Her Excellency, concluded by saying that the Royal Norwegian Embassy looked forward to continuing the partnership with the NORDIC Business Council and supporting Sri Lanka on its development journey.
The outgoing President, Merrick Gooneratne appreciated the support extended to local exporters through the ‘Sri Lanka – Norway Match – Making Programme,’ managed successfully by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and requested Her Excellency’s support to initiate similar programmes for further developing trade and investment between Sri Lanka and the NORDIC region.
Prasath Mahalingam, 99X Technology Ltd. was elected as the President of the Council, and Jehan Perinpanayagam, of Infomate (Pvt) Ltd., and Andre Fernando, of MAC Holdings (Pvt) Limited were elected as the the Vice Presidents. The Committee members representing Aitken Spence Travels (Pvt) Ltd., Indika Abeykoon, Alpha Industries (Pvt) Ltd., Sarath Weerasuriya, Columbus Tours (Pvt) Ltd., Bobby J. Hansen, John Keells IT Ousman Anthony and Wilhelmsen Meridian Navigation Limited, Maleena Awn, were elected to serve for the period 2020 – 2021.
The Bilateral Business Councils, an integral part of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, play a vital role in the promotion of international business. The main activity of the Councils is expansion of business between Sri Lanka and the partner country. The Ceylon Chamber operates 20 Bilateral Business Councils with the prime objectives of promoting of trade and investment, joint ventures, services including promotion of tourism between Sri Lanka and the respective countries. The first Business Council, Sri Lanka – Japan Business Co-Operation Committee was formed in 1979. Since then, 19 more business councils were formed to fulfill the primary objectives.
The Sri Lanka – NORDIC Business Council was inaugurated in 2001 to promote trade, tourism investment and services between Sri Lanka and Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and vice versa. The Sri Lanka – NORDIC Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce continues to act as the vital link between Sri Lanka and the partner countries, to develop new initiatives and areas of corporation in terms of trade, tourism and investment. The Business Council membership comprise a wide spectrum of companies engaged in infrastructure, logistics and services, financial services, tourism and leisure, import and export trading, manufacturing, ICT and telecommunication.
Photo Caption: (Seated Left to right) Jehan Perinpanayagam, Her Excellency Trine Joranli Eskedal, Merrick Gooneratne, Prasath Mahalingam, Lilakshi de Mel and Andre Fernando.
(Standing Left to right) Ousman Anthony, Sarath Weerasuriya, Bobby J. Hansen, Maleena Awn and Kapila Abeywardena.