Sri Lanka Day in Ankara open up multifaceted possibilities for mutual economic cooperation
Sri Lanka Embassy in Türkiye organized a “Sri Lanka Day” event in Ankara together with the Türkiye - Sri Lanka Business Council on 20th June 2023 at the Official Residence of the Ambassador to present opportunities for collaborations in trade, investment and tourism in Sri Lanka among potential Turkish business community. The event was organized under three segments, namely ‘Trade with Sri Lanka’, ‘Investing in Sri Lanka’ and ‘Sri Lanka Tourism’.
While warmly welcoming all guests to the event, H.E. Ms. Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Türkiye mentioned that 2023 is a special year for the two countries with celebrating the100th anniversary of founding of the Turkish Republic, Sri Lanka celebrating its 75th anniversary of independence as well as the two countries celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations, this year. Therefore, she underscored that a range of activities to commemorate these cornerstones indeed contribute much for promoting bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Türkiye.
Ambassador also gave a brief introduction to Sri Lanka covering aspects of its location, geography, biodiversity and other natural resources, culture and so forth. She compared the similarity between Türkiye and Sri Lanka when it comes to trade for over 2 millennia, with Türkiye being an important part of ancient trade route connecting east and west over the land and while Sri Lanka was part of the sea trade route. She further noted that both countries have rich cultural influences due to being strategic locations on trade routes for a very long time. Therefore, it is no surprise that in 1864 the Ottoman Empire appointed an Hony. Consul in Sri Lanka.
In his opening speech, Mr. Mehmet Ali Uğur, Chairman of the Türkiye-Sri Lanka Business Council briefly explained about the activities of the Türkiye - Sri Lanka Business Council which started in 2014 and its contributions for the improvement of bilateral commercial relations between the two countries. He highlighted that Sri Lanka’s potential is not yet known adequately in Türkiye and thus the aim of the Business Council is to improve relations between the two countries with more awareness on opportunities that exist in the two countries, paving the way for enhancing economic cooperation of mutual benefit. He highlighted that Turkish business people should take a note of Sri Lanka’s strategic location and focus more on Sri Lanka and the region.
Mr. Çağatay Özden, the Head of Department of Asia and Pacific Countries, General Directorate of International Agreements and EU at the Ministry of Trade of Türkiye attended the event as the guest of honour. While pointing out that diplomatic relations between the two countries date back to the Ottoman period, Mr. Özden emphasized how the bilateral relations and interactions have developed since the opening of the Embassies in Ankara and in Colombo. Mr. Özden talked about the current scenario of the trade and investment relations between Sri Lanka and Türkiye and added that although the current trade figures are not impressive, the trade potential is much higher and it would be beneficial to both countries.
Ms. Thavishya Mullegamgoda, Minister (Commercial) at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Türkiye presented trade, investment and tourism opportunities in Sri Lanka in detail. Presentations consisted on basic introduction to Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan product basket for export such as apparel, tea, spices, spa & herbal products, coconut & coir-based products, gems, food & beverages, fisheries products etc., potential collaborations for investment in tourism & leisure sector, agriculture production, yachts & boat building, food processing, IT sector, jewellery manufacturing, construction & logistics, energy sector, Colombo Port City projects, mixed development projects etc. and introduction to Sri Lanka as a land with infinite experiences for the Turkish tourists and potential collaborations in tourism sector such as wellness tourism, eco-tourism etc.
Sri Lanka Embassy in Türkiye invited Turkish companies to look at potential that exist in Sri Lanka when they making the next move to source products, expand their businesses or ready to make an investment or establish joint ventures and of course, when Turkish tourists select their next tourist destination for holidays.
During experience sharing session in doing business with Sri Lanka, Mr. Mehmet Ali Uğur, as the General Manager of BETA Gıda Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. in Türkiye said that their company BETA was among the first Turkish companies to start business with Sri Lanka which dates back to 1980’s, introduction to BETA company, its history and their successful experience in doing business with Sri Lanka. He praised the quality of Ceylon tea as well the developments in the Sri Lankan tourism industry, and stressed the importance of the Colombo Port City project. He added that considering Sri Lanka’s close proximity to modern day Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs), Colombo being one of the busiest ports in Asia, as well as the various trade agreements that Sri Lanka has with many countries, particularly in the South and South East Asia, a Turkish investor can have access to a much larger market than the 22 million market share in Sri Lanka. He added that he visions that Sri Lanka would be a thriving financial hub between Singapore and Dubai very soon.
Mr. Aydin Ozu, Advisory Board Member of Penthol Group of Companies based in Istanbul, Türkiye explained his experience in doing business with Sri Lanka, introduced Penthol Group of companies, its history and activities. Considering his experience in energy sector, Mr. Aydin mentioned that Sri Lanka could be considered as a suitable country for investments in energy projects especially in renewable energy sector. He further spoke about his future plans to promote Sri Lanka in Istanbul.
During experience sharing session in tourism sector with Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahmut Sami Uluer, Hony. Consul for Sri Lanka in Nevşehir, as the Chairman of Uluer Group of Companies in Türkiye and the General Manager of Sri Lanka Balloon Company, mentioned his company’s long standing activities in the tourism sector in the Cappadocia touristic region of Türkiye. His company started operating in Sri Lanka with hot air balloon operation in 2016 and they are happy about its operations with having the opportunity to show case attractive landscapes of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination. Mr. Uluer explained the advantages of doing business in Sri Lanka compare to Türkiye, underlining that state taxes are much less in Sri Lanka which makes is quite attractive to invest in Sri Lanka. He also said that Sri Lanka has good air connectivity to the world and obtaining visa is quite easy to the country.
The Sri Lanka Day event was attended by business chambers, organizations, associations, potential Turkish importers, distributors, manufacturers, exporters, investors, travel companies, hotel chains etc. not only based in Ankara but also from other regions in Türkiye. Some of the Hony. Consuls for Sri Lanka in Türkiye were also among distinguished guests.
In her closing remark, Ms. Priya Nagarajah, First Secretary thanked all participants who joined the event and everyone who contributed to make the event success.
During networking sessions, participants were able to enjoy Sri Lankan cuisines, Ceylon tea & beverages and Sri Lankan delights throughout the day.