Minister of Industry & Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen extended an invitation to Austrian officials and business persons to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum and “Reflection of Sri Lanka” exhibition that would take place in Colombo next month.
During his meeting with Mr. Franz Wessig, Deputy Vice Minister for Economy, Family and Youth of Austria, the Minister apprised Mr. Wessig of the economic developments in Sri Lanka, including the significant growth in GDP and infrastructure development projects, among others. Addressing the trade relations between the two countries, both Ministers agreed to further exploit the great potential for trade between Sri Lanka and Austria by diversifying and expanding trade relations.
Minister Bathiudeen also apprised the Deputy Vice Minister of the excellent investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, including the ease of doing business in the country and the many attractive incentives afforded to foreign investors.
The Deputy Vice Minister highlighted the trade opportunities that could be availed of given the geographical locations of both Austria and Sri Lanka. He added that visits by business delegations from both countries would facilitate further enhancement of existing bilateral trade relations. He stated that Austria would be pleased to offer expertise to Sri Lanka in the areas of biomass, health care and also offer soft loans.
On 10th October, Minister Bathiudeen met with Dr. Rienhold Lopatka, State Secretary for European and International Affairs of Austria, where the Minister stressed the importance of strengthening trade and economic relations between the two countries, highlighting the potential that exists in Sri Lanka for joint collaboration in business ventures and for investment.
The Secretary assured that Austria was looking forward to initiating a number of mutually beneficial activities in Sri Lanka, which would promote trade and economic opportunities, especially given the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries which falls in 2014.
The Minister also had a fruitful meeting at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) headquarters with Mr. Taizo Nishikawa, the Deputy Director General and his senior staff. The Minister highlighted the growing significance of Sri Lanka as the hub for trade and other productive economic activities and invited UNIDO to invest more in the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to launch programmes intended to support livelihood recovery, agricultural productivity and green industry in Sri Lanka in line with the objectives of UNIDO. He indicated that his Ministry would be ready to host a regional conference for trade capacity building for the industrial sector and called for discussions on the modalities of establishing a country office of UNIDO in Sri Lanka.
The Deputy Director General of UNIDO, while appreciating Sri Lanka’s contribution to the drafting of the Lima Declaration, extended an invitation to the Minister to lead a delegation to the 15th General Conference of UNIDO in Lima, Peru from 2-5 December 2013.
Following a technical briefing by the senior officials of UNIDO, Director General of Commerce, R.D.S. Kumararatne, briefed on the importance of UNIDO participation at the forthcoming trade exhibition in Sri Lanka, which will be held alongside the Commonwealth Business Forum.
While addressing over 30 Austrian business representatives at a business networking session organized at the Federal Economic Chamber of Austria, the Minister briefed on the vast potential for trade and investment with Sri Lanka. Geographical location, market friendly policies, skilled human resources and a conducive business environment will provide productive business engagement opportunities for Austrian entrepreneurs, the Minister stated. The forthcoming exhibition would provide a great opportunity for interested Austrian business representatives to obtain firsthand knowledge on Sri Lanka’s export capabilities, and to showcase Austria’s technology and machinery capabilities at the event. Considering the technological advancement of Austria in the fields of agriculture, engineering, renewable energy and telecommunications, the exhibition could be an opportunity to display such expertise to a global audience.
The Minister also highlighted the opportunities in the tourism sector and invited Austrian business representatives engaged in tourism to avail themselves of this opportunity. The Austrian company representatives showed keen interest in participating at the trade exhibition and exploring the opportunities that Sri Lanka offered.
Following his visit to Austria, the Minister is scheduled to meet officials in the Slovak Republic.