CANADA-SRI LANKA BUSINESS COUNCIL
PROMOTING GLOBAL TRADE
Exploring opportunities and strategies to bolster trade – Upali Obeyesekere
Q: How does the Canada-Sri Lanka Business Council set about facilitating trade between our two countries?
A: Our council promotes bilateral trade through constant dialogue with importers and exporters from both countries.
Canada and Sri Lanka share a strategic partnership underpinned by shared values of democracy and pluralism. These ties have expanded in recent years, aided by heightened economic engagement, regular high-level interactions and longstanding people to people ties.
Q: What are the major opportunities and challenges for Canadian businesses in Sri Lanka?
A: Opportunities lie in the areas of AI, technology, education, tourism, services, agriculture and natural resources, which are considered Canada’s primary strengths for trade and investment engagement.
Challenges arise due to bureaucracy, political instability, and environmental, social and governance concerns.
Q: And what strategies would you recommend to promote trade and investment between Canada and Sri Lanka?
A: Creating awareness of trade and investment opportunities in both countries is paramount. This can be achieved by setting up effective communication tools.
Social media can be a powerful tool when incorporated into strategies to attract trade and investment. The many platforms provide you with fast, engaging and targeted low-cost options for marketing a country, gaining insights, and communicating with potential trading partners and investors.
Sri Lanka and Canada have worked closely at both the bilateral and multilateral level.
Q: How do you handle cultural differences and business etiquette when dealing with your Sri Lankan counterparts?
A: By embracing diversity and accommodating cultural differences, and promoting open communication by fostering a shared vision or common cause.
Given the fact that Sri Lanka’s literacy rate is slightly over 90 percent, Canadians work well with their Sri Lankan partners in their day-to-day business dealings.
Q: Finally, are there any specific industries or sectors in Sri Lanka that have growth potential for Canadian businesses?
A: Canadian exports to Sri Lanka amounted to US$ 82.4 million last year. The main products that Canada exported to the island were wheat (valued at 40.1 million dollars), dried legumes (US$ 33.2 million) and motorcars (10.7 million dollars).
Based on our knowledge of the market, the sectors that offer the greatest opportunities for Canadian companies are agriculture, food and beverages; ‘cleantech’; education; infrastructure, building products and related services; and information and communications technology.