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EU asks Sri Lanka not to be ‘WTO incompatible’



by Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lanka should avoid any unnecessary damage to the commercial and economic interests of any other WTO party including the EU, Frank Hess, Head of Cooperation Section at EU Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

He said so while addressing a media briefing online, following the final project steering committee meeting of the EU – Sri Lanka Trade Assistance Project at Taj Samudra Colombo recently.

“Some policy makers openly talk about protectionist aims. I ask: Is this what the country needs for economic growth? Is this what is fair to the EU? Sri Lanka enjoys a positive trade balance with the EU, and I would like to underline that no modern economy can operate in isolation.

“We raised this issue at the WTO meetings end of last year and the WTO Market Access Committee in January. We remain concerned by measures some of which have been implemented in a WTO incompatible manner”, he said.

Elaborating on his views he said:

“The European Union believes that global problems such as the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, can only be solved through global cooperation. We can help ourselves only by working together.

“Sri Lanka should pay due regard, in carrying out its domestic policies, to the need for maintaining or restoring equilibrium in its Balance of Payment on a sound and lasting basis, by adopting measures which increase instead of decreasing international trade.

“Recently the European Commission set out its trade strategy for the coming years. Reflecting the concept of open strategic autonomy, the strategy builds on the openness to contribute to the economic recovery through support for the green and digital transformations, as well as a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming global trade rules to ensure that they are fair and sustainable.

“For the recovery of the Sri Lankan and global economy, open and rules-based trade is essential as it gives confidence to businesses to invest, and re-start exchanges that bring in employment and revenues.

“We understand the government is keen to pursue a trade model aiming at export growth and FDI growth, attracting foreign investment also from the EU. But which investor will come here if he or she is forbidden or face obstacles when importing from other countries? To increase GSP+ utilization, you will need to have a balanced approach and not close doors. Trade is about mutual benefits. I fully expect that doing business with Sri Lankan enterprises will not only open new markets in the EU and regionally to you, but will enable EU SMEs to link with local businesses and grow together as well.

“If companies and the Government want to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lanka, the best way is to open up the economy, invest in research and development, provide skills to workers, nurture entrepreneurs, provide decent jobs and most importantly create a business conducive environment which supports both exporters and importers.”

“The EU has also helped SrI Lanka through giving it GSP+ status. With GSP+, the EU has unilaterally opened its market and granted duty free access on 66% of the EU tariff lines representing about 6000 products.

“About €3 billion worth of goods were exported to the EU from Sri Lanka in 2019 using the GSP+ preferences. This resulted in a positive trade balance for Sri Lanka of 1.5 billion euro in

2019 alone. Even without the UK, this balance is still 1 billion euro in the favor of Sri Lanka.”



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Aitken Spence invests in yet another renewable energy project in hydropower



Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake – Deputy Chairman and Managing Director Aitken Spence PLC accepting the share transfer form from Harsha Abeywickrama – chairman Sunshine Energy Ltd; in the presence of Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena – Executive Director Aitken Spence PLC, Dr. Rohan Fernando – Executive Director Aitken Spence PLC, Ms. Nilanthi Sivapragasam – Chief Financial Officer Aitken Spence PLC and Leel Wickremarachchi – Managing Director of the power segment from Aitken Spence PLC. Shyam Sathasivam – Managing Director, Sunshine Energy Ltd. and Harin Udeshi – Director, Waltrim Energy Ltd.

Aitken Spence PLC recently acquired Waltrim Energy Limited, a subsidiary of Sunshine Holdings PLC for Rs. 900 million. The company contributes 6.6MW to the national grid via three mini hydropower plants located in the Nuwara Eliya district, namely of Waltrim Hydropower (Private) Limited, Upper Waltrim Hydropower (Private) Limited and Elgin Hydropower (Private) Limited. Waltrim hydropower draws energy from Kothmala Oya, Upper Waltrim hydropower and Elgin hydropower from Dambagasthwala Oya.

Aitken Spence expands its portfolio in hydropower in the pursuit of meeting rising energy demands, sustainable development, access to clean energy and lowering our national carbon footprint. This is the second hydropower plant which is owned and operated by Aitken Spence. Branford Hydropower (Pvt) Ltd. is the other hydropower plant with a 2.5MW capacity located in Matale. The company also owns and operates a wind power plant with 3MW capacity located in Ambewela.

“This is yet another investment made by Aitken Spence that shows our commitment to expand the power generation portfolio with renewable energy projects. Hydro power plays a key role in renewable energy segment in Sri Lanka and this initiative strengthens the country’s efforts to move towards cleaner energy sources and effective and efficient management of sustainable and affordable generation of energy supplied to the national grid,” commented Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“Aitken Spence maintains highest environmental, safety and quality standards in the management of our power plants. These stringent management frameworks will be extended to the newly acquired power plants to meet compliance requirements as well as global benchmarks for cleaner production of energy,” added Leel Wickremarachchi, Managing Director of the power segment of Aitken Spence.

The Power segment of Aitken Spence is a leading player in the sector with a reputation for investing in pioneering technologies and has diversified into renewable energy by establishing hydro power and wind power plants to support Sri Lanka’s demand for energy. With their commitment to increase the country’s energy consumption from renewable energy sources, the company recently introduced Sri Lanka’s first waste to energy power plant that was officially launched in February 2021. Moreover, these initiatives are in line with the collective efforts of government and the private sector to produce clean energy sustainably.



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Best Woman Entrepreneur at Entrepreneur Awards 2020



Christell Skin Clinic proved their mettle as industry leaders yet again, by clinching the three topmost awards at the recently held Western Province Entrepreneurship Awards Ceremony 2020. The highly-anticipated annual event -jointly organised by the National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka- took place this year at the BMICH.

The event brought together industry leaders and newcomers with the aim to recognise and honour micro, small, medium and large sector entrepreneurs that have contributed significantly to Sri Lanka’s service sector over the past year.

The country’s leading aesthetics and wellness centre took home The Best Enterprise service sector trophy, as well as the Best Entrepreneur of the Year award – the most sought-after prize of the night. More notably however, the Best Woman Entrepreneur title was awarded to the director of the Christell Skin Clinic, Dr. Shanika Arsecularatne, in recognition of her inspirational journey to becoming one of the most successful businesswomen in the country, and also of her outstanding contribution to the field of cosmetology and wellness in Sri Lanka.

“I’m truly honoured to receive this recognition, especially because I believe that no one receives an award like this out of sheer luck, but rather in acknowledgement and appreciation of the hard work, sleepless nights and sacrifices we have all made, to be where we are today,” said Dr. Arsecularatne on accepting her award.

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Plastic Modified Asphalt Concrete car park in Sri Lanka



The car park of the Walgama Food City with its new “Paving with Plastic”

As a socially responsible corporate citizen, Cargills holds a strong commitment to serving the nation and preserving the planet for future generations. By partnering with AGC Innovate Pvt Ltd – one of the country’s leading innovative solutions providers – Cargills initiated the launch of “Paving with Plastic” as a means to address Sri Lanka’s plastic waste menace in an ecofriendly and pragmatic approach.

The benefits of plastic are irrefutable – this versatile material is ubiquitous in our everyday lives, due to it being cheap and convenient to produce as well as being highly durable and user friendly. However, once used and disposed, plastic lingers in the environment for too long and does not decompose.

As a result, the inherent problem of plastic pollution is a global crisis, with Sri Lanka generating approximately 7000 metric tons of mismanaged solid waste daily, with 6% accounting for plastic and polythene waste. Therefore, in the absence of a proper waste management system, non-recyclable plastic is dumped in large landfill sites. These sites are now exceeding their maximum capacity, and has led to pressing environmental and social concerns in the country.

As a first step to tackling this waste plastic problem, Cargills made a landmark decision to pave the Cargills Food City Carparks using Plastic Modified Asphalt Concrete, partnering with AGC Innovate.

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