Safety, political stability and business friendly policies are the essential ingredients business investors look for when considering opportunities in foreign markets and that is what exactly they would find in Sri Lanka, opines Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s envoy to the United States.
Delivering the keynote speech at the 2013 Frontier South Asia Investor Conference in New York City on June 4 Ambassador Wickramasuriya articulated to an audience of U.S. investment professionals that Sri Lanka has been able to achieve an impressive economic growth averaging 7.5 % since 2009, says the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington.
The conference was organized by Auerbach Grayson, the largest US global brokerage group specializing in frontier markets covering 129 countries.
Expounding on Sri Lanka’s strong economic fundamentals Ambassador Wickramasuriya drew the audience’s attention to Sri Lanka’s remarkable progress especially with the dawn of peace in 2009.
“In terms of the perceptions on the business environment of Sri Lanka, what is important are the independent international indexes which feature Sri Lanka’s continuous improvements on the business environment, good governance and competitiveness”, he intoned.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya also shared some of the recent ratings that Sri Lanka has obtained in independent indexes with the crowded audience.
“The UNDP compiled Human Development Index (HDI), ranks Sri Lanka among the highest in the South Asian region ranking at 97 out of 187 countries. As per the doing business index of the World Bank and the IMF, Sri Lanka has ranked highest in the region at 81 in 2013 up from 89 in 2012. It should be noted that Sri Lanka is the highest ranking country in South Asia and is the only country in the region to improve its ranking for 2013” Ambassador Wickramasuriya stated.
“Other internationally comparable indicators such as Index of Economic Freedom by US based Heritage Foundation, Sri Lanka ranked 81 in 2013 compared to 111 in 2009”, he added.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador further elaborated that Sri Lanka has been active in the international capital market, issuing sovereign bonds since 2007 and attracting an increasing number of global investors.
“The US $ 1 billion sovereign bond issued in 2012 was very successful and it was oversubscribed 10.5 times. Over 400 investors participated and the coupon was the lowest at 5.875%. The yield rates of all bonds have been coming down showing investor confidence in the Sri Lanka economy, Ambassador Wickramasuriya averred.
“ Even with heightened global uncertainties, Sri Lanka was able to maintain sovereign ratings assigned by all major Rating agencies - Fitch Ratings BB- (Stable) - Standard and Poor’s B+ (Stable ) - Moody’s B1 (Positive ). These international indicators are good testimony to recognize and appreciate Sri Lanka’s solid Economic Fundamentals”, he added.
The two day conference which commenced on June 03, 2013 at Omni Berkshere Hotel in NYC was a collaborative effort of Aurebach Grayson , a firm successfully pioneering in attracting US institutional investors to access small growth markets with its partners in South Asia: City Bank of Bangladesh, First Capital of Pakistan and TKS Securities of Sri Lanka.