Sri Lankan Business and Investment Promotion in Melbourne:
Story by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne
Sri Lankan Business and Investment Promotion in Melbourne: Story by Marie Pietersz, Melbourne
The Minister for Trade and Investment, Innovation & Digital Economy, Small Business and International Education, Hon Philip Didakis, MLC, in association with the Aus-Lanka Business Council, hosted Sri Lankan and Australian business representatives to a trade and investment promotion at the Investment Centre of Victoria, ANZ Tower, 55 Collins Street, Melbourne, on 23 February.
Minister Didakis is due to visit Sri Lanka in March to build on the strong trade relationships the two countries already have and to encourage further investment by Sri Lankan businesses into Victoria and vice versa.
About 150 invitees attended and included senior Government officials of the Victorian Government, Consul General of Sri Lanka for Victoria, Consul (Commercial) of the Consulate-General in Sydney, present and former Victorian MPs, members of local Councils , Committee members of the Aus-Lanka Business Council, and business leaders from the Sri Lankan community in Victoria. Exhibitors of Sri Lankan products in Australia were also present.
Invitees were greeted by winners of the Miss Sri Lanka-Australia and Miss South Asia-Australia Pageants and treated to an engaging cultural performance comprising Sri Lankan dancers and drummers.
The Hon. Frank McGuire, MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Innovation, representing the Minister, formally announced the Minister’s impending visit to Sri Lanka with the Trade Commissioner for South Asia, Ms Michelle Wade.
Mr McGuire’s speech highlighted the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between Victoria and Sri Lanka and stated that the Victorian Government is focusing on business/investment opportunities between Victoria and Sri Lanka in key areas such as education, agriculture, infrastructure and tourism.
Delivering his remarks at the event, Mr. W.G.S. Prasanna, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, conveyed the appreciation of the Government of Sri Lanka to the Victorian Government for hosting the event, underlining the important aspects of the enduring partnership between Sri Lanka and Australia. He highlighted potential areas for trade and investment in Sri Lanka and invited the Victorian business community to invest in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka and Australia share an enduring partnership,” the Consul General said. “I feel that the Dictionary definition of ‘partnership’ is a bit uninteresting and narrow and not appropriate to describe the way I think about the relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka, which is marked by its historical ties, diversity, dialogue and, perhaps most importantly, the shared understanding and engagement between people across many fields. And simply put, the bedrock of this relationship is not just dependent on those popular 3 Cs: curry, cricket and Commonwealth. But I do not mean to say that they are any less important.”
Sri Lanka and Australia celebrated 70 years of formal diplomatic relations last year, marked by official visits by the Heads of each country.
The Consul General said bilateral cooperation between Australia and Sri Lanka had surged to a record level of A$1.3 in 2016-17, up by more than 27 per cent compared to the previous financial year and extended from trade and investment, sports, education, tourism, defence, maritime and regional security, to science and technology.
He singled out Education as the most steadily growing aspect of the economic relationship, with “more than 9500 enrolments of Sri Lankan students in Australia each year and thousands more pursuing Australian-affiliated studies domestically in Sri Lanka. More than half of those students studying in Sri Lanka eventually enrol in Universities and other Institutions in Melbourne,” he said.
Other significant figures announced by the Consul General included the rapid growth in Australian tourists visiting Sri Lanka (up by almost 10 per cent for the last year) resulting in Sri Lanka’s services exports to Australia grow by more than 36 per cent.
The Consul General said he wished to place on record his sincere appreciation to the State Government of Victoria for the launch of Sri Lanka Airlines’ recommencement of direct flights between Colombo and Melbourne, which is anticipated will provide continued trade growth in the years to come.
Ms. Dilkie Perera, National President of the Aus-Lanka Business Council also addressed the gathering, reiterating the strong trade growth between Victoria and Sri Lanka and highlighting the achievements of the Council in the initiatives.
The event provided a forum for invitees to interact and discuss trade, business and investment opportunities. Mr. Abdul Raheem, Consul (Commercial) of the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney was on hand to assist invitees with information on trade and investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka.