Let me at the outset thank your Excellency President Yanukovich for your words of introduction.
I am pleased to speak a few words on this occasion which convenes the Ukraine –Sri Lanka Business Forum. In my view this Forum is one of special significance to the relations between Sri Lanka and Ukraine, as its objective is to widen the scope of our bilateral relations beyond official contacts between our two governments, and to stimulate direct interaction between the private sector and the business communities through the promotion of economic and trade cooperation. In today’s globalized and integrated world, participation in the global economy is necessary to generate national wealth and create employment in domestic economies. It is my intention to transform Sri Lanka into a major centre of naval, trade, air, energy and knowledge.
We have encouraged the private sector to take a leading role in this process. In the future too we will follow the same policy. It is for this reason that I have invited a delegation of key members of the private sector of Sri Lanka to accompany me in this visit.
Friends of the Business community,
Our vision for Sri Lanka`s development is apparent. It integrates the positive attributes of market economic policies and economic growth with our own domestic aspirations for social justice and human development. I believe that this has much in common with your Excellency President Yanukovich’s own stated agenda for Ukraine.
I am pleased to inform you that we have succeeded in establishing stability in the country and ensuring investment protection. The Economist Magazine stated a year ago that Sri Lanka is among the few countries with the speediest economic growth. Furthermore, with the elimination of terrorism there is security and stability in every part of the country.
Sri Lanka has today reached the status of a middle-income developing country with free market liberalized economic policies. Today, Sri Lanka is ranked as the most liberalized economy in South Asia. With the post-conflict stimulus, our economy is expected to grow at a rate of 7% this year, and Sri Lanka was rated one of the world’s best performing financial markets in 2009 as investor confidence grew.
One of Sri Lanka’s greatest assets is our highly skilled and educated labour force. The policy of free universal education and international schools has further strengthened this highly skilled Human Resource base.
Sri Lanka and Ukraine are geographically situated in strategically important locations in the world. Strategically located at the cross roads of both East and West sea routes and as the point of entry to South Asia, Sri Lanka since ancient times is an important centre in the trading routes.
Any visitor to Sri Lanka would see that the country is ready for a giant leap in the sectors of port, transport, energy, commercial and knowledge. At present, a port in South Colombo is being built. The Hambantota Port is also being built in the South of Sri Lanka.
Everyone agrees that Sri Lanka is becoming the Wonder of Asia. Sri Lanka is not far away from the day of becoming a major logistical hub offering advanced support services.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of revolutionizing the road network. Networks of modern highways and railway services are being constructed speedily. This network will instantly link all parts of the country. We are ready to provide surface electricity with the construction of massive electricity generation plants at Norochcholai and Upper Kothmale. These projects are undertaken in collaboration with international partners. With all these developments we are not surprised that Sri Lanka is ranked with the best countries in world for foreign investments.
All this gives much scope for expansion of economic relations between Sri Lanka and Ukraine. I hope that the Business Forum will provide an opportunity to exchange information about each others markets, business climate, and opportunities. I hope it will also enable you to make the initial contacts with each other.
Let me conclude by extending an invitation to you to visit Sri Lanka in the near future together with a business delegation from Ukraine!
I thank you.