OBG Event

21 Jun 2017

Colombo, June 2017: Sri Lanka’s plans to capitalise on high levels of investor confidence and a $1.5bn deal with the IMF to implement a much-needed modernisation drive and structural reforms are mapped out in a new report just produced by the global research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG).

The Report: Sri Lanka 2017 charts the island nation’s journey from decades of conflict to a new era of optimism, buoyed by strong growth, low unemployment and rising incomes.

OBG analyses the part that improved transport infrastructure, including upgrades to ports and roads, together with Customs reforms, will play in helping Sri Lanka to strengthen trade and international relations while building on its strategic location in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka’s unspoilt beaches, historical sites and great outdoor opportunities are proving a draw for a diverse mix of tourists. The Report: Sri Lanka 2017 explores the government’s plans for developing the sector further while highlighting the activity already underway, which includes a raft of new hotel openings.

In addition, OBG looks in detail at the country’s fast-developing telecoms and IT industry, which is being driven forward by rising demand for a wider range of services from a growing and increasingly tech-savvy population. Other areas of Sri Lanka’s economy examined include the country’s all-important agricultural industry, which is earmarked for modernisation as part of a national drive to boost both production and exports.

The Report: Sri Lanka 2017 was launched on June 19 at the Hilton Colombo during a discussion event at which experts shared their thoughts on the building blocks expected to drive growth across the key sectors of the economy. Speakers also explored the part that the country’s economic fundamentals are playing in boosting investment from international banks and financial institutions.

Oliver Cornock, OBG’s Editor-in-Chief, introduced the debate, which was attended by VIPs, representatives from the public and private sectors and the media, while Sarath Amunugana, minister of special assignments, gave a keynote address.

Speakers included: Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Governor, Central Bank; Upul Jayasuriya, Chairman, Board of Investment; Samantha Ranatunga, Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; Dilshan Wirasekara, CEO, First Capital; and Dushan Casie Chetty, head, commercial banking, Standard Chartered.

Commenting after the launch, Cornock said the Group’s report indicated that the reforms needed to help Sri Lanka reach its long-term goal of securing sustainable and inclusive economic growth were taking shape.

“While the post-war years have brought impressive economic expansion and investor interest, pockets of poverty and inequalities remain an issue,” he said. “Our findings suggest that Sri Lanka’s new government is already moving to realign its economic policy and address these weaknesses while embarking on an infrastructural overhaul that will undoubtedly sit well with investors eyeing the country’s many opportunities.”

OBG’s Managing Editor for Asia, Paulius Kuncinas, agreed that there was a tangible sense of optimism in Sri Lanka, with new trade deals in the pipeline and a shift in the economic landscape towards service-led industries.

“Sometimes overlooked, Sri Lanka has a fascinating story to tell, which most recently includes 15 years of continuous growth,” he said. “With ambitious plans that include transforming the country into an international transport hub and driving new growth in the greater Colombo region, the government’s bid to take Sri Lanka’s development to the next level looks to be well on track.”

The Report: Sri Lanka 2017 contains contributions from President Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, together with a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for investors. It also features a wide range of interviews with other high-profile personalities, including: Ravi Karunanayake, former minister of finance; Malik Samarawickrama, minister of development strategies and international trade; Indira Malwatte, chairwoman, Sri Lanka Export Development Board; Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore minister for trade and industry; and former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

The Report: The Sri Lanka 2017 marks the culmination of more than six months of field research by a team of analysts from Oxford Business Group. The publication assesses trends and developments across the economy, including those in macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and others. The Report: Sri Lanka 2017 is available in print and online.