Due to the difficulties of organizing physical export promotion programmes during this pandemic situation, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) in collaboration with Foreign Ministry and the Sri Lankan Missions overseas has initiated online sessions to enable foreign buyers and Sri Lankan exporters meet via virtual platforms with the objective of creating trade linkages between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world, as it is imperative to sustain the nation’s export promotional activities in spite of severe challenges caused by COVID-19.
Numerous B2B meetings were conducted by the EDB under this initiative in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Missions overseas and foreign trade chambers. The B2B meetings were conceptualised based on the products that have potential to access the respective markets. The Sri Lankan Missions overseas took the responsibility to introduce potential buyers/ importers for the selected products and the EDB coordinated with both the Sri Lankan Missions and Sri Lankan exporters to organize online meetings in an effective manner.
Initial webinars were conducted prior to the B2B sessions to make exporters aware of the market conditions/trends, tariffs, taxes and other regulations as well as available concessions through free trade agreements and other preferential trade arrangements in the particular market areas. This series of meetings covered all the regions -the Americas, Asia, the EU, and the Middle East for the identified potential product sectors.
Targeting the Americas region, B2B events were carried out with buyers mainly from the USA, Brazil and Chile for product sectors such as personal protective equipment (PPE), tea, cinnamon, curry leaves, coconut oil, beer, fabrics, lingerie, shapewear, coir-related products. As a result, some exporters are currently discussing with foreign buyers to send samples while few of them are making arrangements for their first orders.
Another virtual business meeting was conducted between six buyers from Qoo10 online platform and Sri Lankan companies related to kids’ stationary and educational toys in partnership with the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore and Singapore Business Federation. Sri Lankan exporters in apparel and spice sectors benefitted by a B2B meeting programme jointly organized by the EDB and the Sri Lanka Embassy in Poland in collaboration with the Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Poland.
For the Japanese market, three B2B sessions were held for coir-related products, cocopeat and ayurveda and herbal cosmetics.
Promoting agriculture-related products
Several B2B meetings took place with the participation of Sri Lankan companies in the spices and concentrates sector with buyers from the USA. Further, participant exporters benefited from the B2B events organized in collaboration with the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK for the ayurveda and herbal cosmetics, coconut milk and vanilla product sectors.
A number of B2B meetings were conducted for the Sri Lankan coconut-based products with the Turkish buyers for sub-sectors such as desiccated coconut, cocopeat, activated carbon and coconut kernel products. Preliminary discussions have been held with the Sri Lankan Mission in South Africa to organize B2B meetings for edible coconut products, coir and growing mediums. Fruitful and productive business meetings were organized for coconut products and spices by the EDB and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Jordan.
Creating opportunities for industrial products
A virtual B2B meeting for the apparel industry for products such as men’s wear, women’s wear, kids wear, rainwear, hats etc. was conducted during the last two months, and many Sri Lankan companies reaped benefits by the meetings they had with buyers from France and Poland.
A business meeting session was also conducted between Sri Lankan boat building companies and a boat builder from Denmark. This was followed by additional meetings for the boat building sector in different markets and consequent to it, there is an ongoing discussion to form a joint venture between a Turkish ship builder and a reputed Sri Lankan ship building company in the near future. Furthermore, proposals from the Sri Lankan companies were shared with an Omani party to explore suitable collaboration in the boat building sector. B2B meetings for printing and packaging products were carried out with two buyers from India with the support of the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi.
Focusing on high-value exports, the EDB in collaboration with theirs Lankan Embassy in Thailand organized a meeting to create linkages between SLINTEC and a Thai auto manufacturer and a battery manufacturer to promote graphene for Lead Acid and Lithium Ion batteries. It is believed that these discussions will create more business collaboration with Thailand enabling Sri Lanka to penetrate this emerging market.
The EDB and the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai organized a virtual B2B session with the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers’ Association from 05th to 09th October in which 66 B2B meetings were held with 10 Sri Lankan companies. Further, business sessions were conducted among Sri Lankan electronics and electrical sector manufactures/exporters with buyers from Germany in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Embassy in Germany.
Promotions for the export services sector
A key online event was held in August for the ICT/BPM sector in which leading Sri Lankan start-ups and product engineering companies successfully pitched for clients in Japan. The main objective of this event was to introduce 07 start-ups and product engineering companies to the Japanese market and create business linkages to strengthen Japan – Sri Lanka Business partnership. Forty-five (45) Japanese participants attended the event.
In order to highlight the potential of Sri Lanka’s logistics services, two webinars were held connecting the Sri Lankan missions in countries from the Far East and Europe. Hub operators who participated in those webinars are in communication with the Sri Lankan missions seeking further opportunities to connect with the business community in the targeted markets.
Forthcoming online B2B programmes
The EDB is eagerly exploring options to conduct B2B programmes with China for multi products in collaboration with the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Guangzhou, China, and Yunnan Commercial Office in Colombo. Additionally, the details of interested companies have been shared with the Bank of China for the online match-making event which will be conducted to coincide with the 3rd China International Import Expo in November 2020.
At the same time, discussions are ongoing to organize B2B programmes for the identified products such as automobile components, spices (red pepper varieties), natural rubber, kitchen utensils, porcelain products for the South Korean market and coconut, tea, betel leaves and rubber products for the Pakistan market. Another program is being planned for the Turkey market for multi sectors in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Embassy and the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) while a separate interactive virtual conference followed by B2B meetings will be held by companies in the country’s logistics sector for the Federation of Indian Exporters Organization on 10th November.
As the online platform is the best mechanism to promote exports in the international market owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EDB will discuss with other Sri Lankan overseas missions to organize more webinars as well as B2B programmes. (EDB Press Release)
PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary
There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.
GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.
Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”
“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.
Hizbullah denies links with Zahran
But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.
Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.
Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.
The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.
“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.
Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.
Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.
The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.
In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.
Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.
Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.
“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.
“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.
The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.
The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.
CA annuls summons issued on President
The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.
Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.
Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.
President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.
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