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Ambassador N’dry from Côte d’Ivoire to visit Sri Lanka



A delegation from the embassy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire will be visiting Sri Lanka from 31 January to 7 February. Eric Camille N’dry, the Ambassador designated of Cote d’Ivoire to Sri Lanka, will be presenting his credentials to the President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, while the delegation will be participating in the Conference on African Heads of Mission with the President, as well as the Independence Day celebrations.

In Sri Lanka the Côte d’Ivoire is represented by Sheran Fernando, Honorary Consul.The delegation will also be holding business meetings with a view to building collaboration and partnerships between Sri Lanka and Côte d’Ivoire.

The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire is a West African country bordering Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana.Côte d’Ivoire is the powerhouse of the economy of French-speaking West Africa, and is the gateway to the vast market of 15 West African States. It has recorded good economic and social performances since 2012, with an average growth rate of 8% in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2012 and 2019; 7.4% in 2021. All this is within a reliable macroeconomic environment characterized by an inflation rate remaining permanently below the community threshold of 3%.

With a view to consolidating and increasing the achievements in terms of economic, social and environmental development, the Government has decided to continue the strategic planning of its development through the establishment, since 2012, of a five-year National Development Plan (PND).

The current Plan spans over 2021 to 2025 and aims to achieve the economic and social transformation need in order to raise Côte d’Ivoire, by 2030, to the rank of upper middle-income country.Besides, in line with its liberal policy, the Ivorian Government has made the private sector as the privileged actor of the economic growth. Indeed, the investments expected from the private sector represent 74% of the funding for the 2021-2025 NDP, estimated at 59,000 billion FCFA.

Like emerging countries, Côte d’Ivoire has undertaken significant reforms to improve its business environment in order to promote the development of a dynamic and internationally competitive private sector.

As competitive advantages, Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans and the fourth largest exporter of rubber in the world. It’s also the first producer and exporter of cashew nuts, 3rd coffee and cotton producer in Africa and the 4th palm oil producer in Africa. It also plays a key role in transit trade for neighbouring land locked countries.

Furthermore, Côte d’Ivoire’s financial sector is the largest in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). It currently has 28 commercial banks, 2 specialized financial institutes, 53 microfinance institutions, 4 mobile operators of which 3 offer money market products and 21 insurance companies as well as a very attractive Investment Code which grants tax advantages to investors. As such, there is no limitation on investors’ access to foreign currency and the transfer of investment-related assets is permitted, provided that it is always compliant with tax regulations.

There is a free zone (The Mahatma Gandhi Village of Information Technologies and Biotechnology – VITIB SA) which covers an area of ​​700 ha, in Grand-Bassam, a town located 20 minutes from Abidjan. Accreditation in this free zone allows the acquisition of premises or land, 0% taxes, 0% customs and 0% taxes.As is evident, Côte d’Ivoire is a stable country with a growing economy. From 2012 to 2021, the economy grew to become the second-fastest rate of economic growth in Africa and fourth-fastest rate in the world. (IMF. “World Economic Outlook database: April 2022”.)

Côte d’Ivoire is a signatory to trade agreements within the African Community.It is also a beneficiary of the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which allows the country to export a certain number of goods into the United States tariff-free.

Under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, Côte d’Ivoire gets duty-free, quota-free access to the EU.In 2018 Côte d’Ivoire signed the African Continental Economic Free Trade Zone (AfCFTA) agreement and in 2020 an EPA with the United Kingdom which replicates the tariff treatment under the European Union.Côte d’Ivoire could be a gateway into the African continent for Sri Lankan businesses looking to break into the region. It’s trade agreements with the U.S, EU and U.K and the market access it provides makes it a country ripe for investment.

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Dulux colours Architect 2023 exhibition with vibrant and engaging presence



Dulux -Sri Lanka’s, a leading manufacturer of paints and coatings – is celebrating the successful close of its participation at Architect 2023, also taking home an award for the ‘Best Trade Stall with Innovative Use of Colour’.

Organised by the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects -and now in its 41st year- this year’s edition of the Architect 2023 annual trade fair took place from February 24-26 at the BMICH, and witnessed greater participation from leading companies and entrepreneurs actively involved in the various construction and architecture sectors; both locally and internationally, a company news release said.

“Dulux established a strong presence at the event with a spectacular exhibit themed Colour Futures ’23, featuring its 2023 Colour of the Year: Wild Wonder. Visitors to the stand were able to explore the four colour palettes, Lush, Buzz, Raw and Flow, inspired by the nature-influenced theme, with Dulux colour experts on hand providing unique trade insight, and also advising visitors on how best the shades can be implemented into their own work and living spaces,” it said.

“The popular mascot, “Dulux Dog” was also present to playfully engage with exhibition attendees and brighten up the vibrant Dulux stall even further. The Dulux exhibit proved widely popular among attendees to Architect 2023, due to its powerful display of colour in both interior & Exterior spaces. “

“Architect 2023 was a great opportunity for Dulux to learn from fellow trade professionals, and also to introduce visitors to the latest trends and insights from the global paints and coatings landscape,” said Upendra Gunawardhana, Head of Marketing at AkzoNobel Paints Sri Lanka. “We’ve maintained a strong long-standing relationship with the SLIA, and have every intention of being back again next year as well.”

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ACCA reaffirms ComBank as Best among Sri Lankan banks for Sustainable Reporting



Commercial Bank’s Chief Operating Officer Mr S. Prabagar (third from left) receives the ACCA award. The Bank’s Deputy General Manager – Retail Banking & Marketing Mr Hasrath Munasinghe (second from right) and Senior Manager – Sustainability, Women’s Banking & CSR Mrs Kamalini Ellawala (extreme right) are also in the picture

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon was declared the best among all Sri Lankan banks in sustainability reporting at the Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards for 2022 presented by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Sri Lanka.

As the winner in the ‘Banking’ category Commercial Bank was recognised for being one of the most transparent, accountable, and responsible entities in the country. The award was presented for the Bank’s 2021 Annual Report titled ‘Beyond a shape, beyond a colour’ which among other aspects, explores the Bank’s evolving operating context in which social and environmental concerns are brought to the centre of its corporate agenda.

Prepared in line with the International <IR> framework, this Annual Report also presents the Bank’s social and environmental impacts as per the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards: Core option. Additionally, it reports on the Bank’s contribution towards the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals.

The Report also features a dedicated section on ‘Business model for sustainable value creation’ and discloses information on loans screened through the Bank’s Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS), paper reduction and recycling initiatives, increased usage of renewable energy, and switching to energy-efficient appliances under the section on ‘Natural Capital.’ Indicators of value derived in this category include reduced energy consumption in gigajoules, number of facilities subjected to SEMS screening, number of new solar panel installation locations, number of internet banking and mobile banking users, and solar power generated as a percentage of energy consumption.

Commercial Bank’s high standards in comprehensive reporting area result of the Bank’s commitment to being a responsible financial entity and shaping its work ethics around sustainable business practices, the Bank said. Last year too, Commercial Bank topped the ACCA awards in the Banking category, in addition to winning the overall award for the Best Sustainability Report of 2020.

Notably, Commercial Bank’s 2021 Annual Report also won four awards including a Gold for ‘Interior Design,’ and a Bronze for ‘Interactive Annual Report’ at the 2022 edition of the MerComm ARC Awards which is the world’s largest annual report competition.

The Bank’s sustainability initiatives include lending to support sustainable and green operations, migrating customers to paperless banking, improving efficiency in the use of energy, water and other resources in its own operations and supporting community initiatives that help conserve habitats and the environment. Its support to a mangrove restoration project in Koggala and marine turtle conservation initiative in Panama are examples of its commitment to environmental conservation.

The Bank pioneered a mandatory social and environmental screening process for its project lending activities and was the first bank in Sri Lanka to venture into Green Financing. It also revolutionised digital banking by introducing features in its ‘Flash’ mobile application to measure and offset customer impact on the environment.

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Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC prioritizes psychological wellbeing in view of Women’s Day



Seen here are a few women at Ex-Pack cutting the cake

In view of the marking the International Women’s Day, Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC held an insightful event at their state-of-the-art factory premises in Kelaniya, highlighting the importance of psychological wellbeing and how Ex-Pack is taking up measures in ensuring an enabling environment for its 300 strong workforce, based on its wider DEI policies.

Various global studies have shown that women are impacted at much higher rates than men when it comes to mental illnesses. The session celebrated their achievements and life stories, and shared some eye-opening tips, facts, know how’s, to-dos, and various other influential factors including the dire need to change our perspectives on women’s roles, health and wellness. This also touched upon the emotional and social aspects of wellbeing too.

This year’s theme is centered on #EmbraceEquity, and Ex-Pack is no stranger when it comes to pursuing gender equality in an industry that has been traditionally dominated by male. As one of leading corrugated cartons manufacturer in Sri Lanka delivering end-to-end packaging solutions to both local and international clientele, and a subsidiary of Aberdeen Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Ex-Pack actively encourages more female participation.

‘With this year’s theme being #EmbraceEquity, we take great pride in being an ambassador and role model in our industry. We go beyond just equal opportunities to pro-actively collaborate with everyone, to ensure that our talented women have every possible resource at their disposal and are given all the required support to succeed both professionally and personally,’ said M. Zulficar Ghouse, Managing Director- Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC

Ex-Pack has long been engaged with providing equal career opportunities, and both men and women

are respected, rewarded and compensated equally. The company also has an open-door policy for all employees. Women empowerment stems directly from the top leadership, recognizing that women and their strengths are crucial to both the company and the overall economy.

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