World Export Development Forum accentuates Sri Lanka's role as a regional hub for international tradeFriday, May 06, 2016 > 10:24:29
The 16th edition of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) to be held in Colombo in October will provide an opportunity to showcase Sri Lanka as a regional hub for international trade, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.
The WEDF 2016 co-hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) will be held 12-13 October 2016 in Colombo.
As the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), WEDF brings together over 600 business leaders, policymakers, heads of trade and investment support institutions and international trade development officials to address international competitiveness for developing countries.
Addressing the WEDF 2016 launch in Colombo on Thursday at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Minister Bathiudeen said the WEDF is a rare opportunity for Sri Lankan export sector to highlight its brand portfolio to the visiting international trade experts, right here in Colombo.
"In fact, it is not only an opportunity to highlight our export portfolio, but also a highly viable FDI call opportunity for us," said the Minister.
WEDF 16 is themed "Trade for Success: Compete, Connect, Change" and reflects the importance attached by both the GOSL and ITC on the role of private sector in growth, trade and job creation. WEDF 2016 will also feature focused B2Bs among participating corporates and businesses from Sri Lanka and abroad.
Speaking at the event, Minister Bathiudeen said there are Sri Lanka has special advantages, for example, its strategic geographic location, that supports its engagement with international supply chains
"We know that Sri Lanka was a key port of call in the historic silk route. Colombo port has been a "must stop" destination connecting the shippers of west and east. But today we are not just a hub sitting at the southern end of the Indian sub-continent. We have achieved South Asia's main shipping hub status as well" said Minister Bathiudeen.
According to World Shipping Council rankings Colombo port is Ranked 33 among top 50 container ports and as per Alpha Liner Research, Colombo is ranked as 27th container port in the world.
According to the Minister world's top twenty shipping lines, which handle 87 percent of global shipping, call on Colombo port on a regular basis.
"In fact Colombo has become South Asia's topmost 'container transshipment' hub. The reason for Colombo's shipping prominence is not only due to being located at the Southern Indian sub-continent but also being located along one of the busiest shipping routes in global trade. Colombo is yet another hub port that is on the 10000-mile long historic Rotterdam-Singapore shipping route," he pointed out.
As a result of this connectivity, Sri Lanka's world class apparel sector has succeeded in maintaining highly competitive logistic costs and is able to overcome the continuously changing comparative advantages, Minister Bathiudeen said.
"What is equally important is that this location advantage also gives us to boost our service exports," he said pointing out that the strong and continued air connectivity to Colombo from Europe and US, fast Visa processing to Colombo, and twenty four hour seven day telecom and IT connectivity using SEA-ME-WE cable to the world, are some geographic related factors that results in the growing reputation of Sri Lankan as an IT/BPO outsourcing destination with the presence of international outsourcing firms such as HSBC, RR Donnelly, AMBA Research and WNS.
"Therefore WEDF 2016 is not only an opportunity to highlight our export portfolio but also a highly viable FDI call opportunity for us to grow our international trade as well," he said.
The Minister expressing confidence that both the local and international media present here will extend their valuable support to "take WEDF 2016 message everywhere," commended the ITC in Geneva and Minister of International Trade and Strategic Development Malik Samarawickrama "for their joint efforts to develop Lankan trade using WEDF global platform."
Executive Director of Geneva's International Trade Centre Arancha Gonzalez, addressing the session said the ITC promotes international trade to drive inclusive growth.
He said with its central position in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka was a center for trade long before the Portuguese sailed into these waters.
In recent years the Island's role as a regional hub, has grown steadily and Sri Lanka is very strategically positioned between today's growth poles in East and South Asia and tomorrow's growth poles in Africa, the ITC official said.
"I can think of no better for ITC to hold its flagship event than Sri Lanka. Convening the world's trade and development community together with business reps here in Colombo this October will provide an opportunity to showcase Sri Lanka, the wonder of Asia," he said.
The ITC will conduct a series of training programs for Lankan agro food producers to enhance their standards to access new, potential markets and teams from ITC Geneva and Australia's AusTrade are in Colombo now to start a support program aimed at Lankan women entrepreneurs.
Ministers Malik Samarawickrema and Sujeewa Senasinghe also addressed the Colombo event.