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Korea could assist SL to reach pinnacle of development – Ambassador Woonjin JEONG

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By Lynn Ockersz

‘The time is right for Sri Lanka to change and take a leap to a higher level. Korea is the very country that can assist Sri Lanka to reach the pinnacle of national development and prosperity. Korea’s economic miracle, “The Miracle on the Han River” is a story of overcoming many hardships by the Korean people that led to Korea’s national transformation from poverty to prosperity. As a true friend, Korea would like to share the technological know-how and resources to help Sri Lanka to achieve “the Miracle on the Kelani River”, ambassador to the Republic of Korea in Sri Lanka Woonjin JEONG said.

Speaking to ‘The Island Financial Review’ recently in an exclusive interview ambassador JEONG also said that besides providing growing markets for Sri Lanka’s rubber, coconuts, graphite and apparels, among many other items, Korea-Sri Lanka tourism links are another area in bilateral economic ties that could be further developed. He said that 13,000 Koreans visited Sri Lanka last year. ‘But this is only 0.5 per cent of the total tourism in Korea.’

The interview:

In which broad directions do you hope to take Korea-SL ties?

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1977, Korea and Sri Lanka have come a long way together to form a cordial bilateral partnership. We have been true friends to each other. Our relations have much potential to grow. 

Sri Lanka is not only one of Korea’s priority ODA cooperation partner countries, but also one of the top five countries that are benefitted from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of Korea. The sum of investment in various ODA projects and grants for Sri Lanka since 1987 is over one billion USD. The Sri Lanka office of KOICA has assisted and funded commercial and infrastructure projects of Sri Lanka in the various fields such as education, transportation, water resources, sanitation and regional development in Sri Lanka. 

The engagement in labour cooperation has also been impressive in recent years. 23,000 Sri Lankan employees are presently in Korea. Around 520 million US dollars were transmitted by them from Korea to Sri Lanka last year. They greatly contribute to the economic advancement of both countries. Since COVID-19 outbreak, the process of departure to Korea for employment has been suspended. However, it resumed last September and I invited the first batch of Sri Lankan migrant workers who were going to the Republic of Korea to express my appreciation for their contribution to uplift the economies of both countries.

Our cultural exchanges also have intensified over the years. The Korea Week 2020 was conducted virtually on digital platforms to provide an immersive experience of the Korean culture. I witnessed the enthusiasm and interest among the Sri Lankan participants. It is evident that our cultural bonds have grown stronger over the years.

I hope to further expand our economic ties, labour cooperation and cultural exchanges during my term as Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

What are the best investment opportunities for Korean corporates in SL?

Korea was Sri Lanka’s biggest foreign investor during the 1980s and early 90s. I believe that it is an opportune moment for Korea and Sri Lanka to revive investments, learn from each other’s experiences and intensify mutually beneficial trade and FDI. Sri Lanka is endowed with natural resources and high quality human resources which are very complimentary with the capital and technology of Korea.

The South Korean economy is the 10th largest in the world with a GDP of $1.6 billion; the exports have increased by 750 times between 1970 and 2018. Korea’s economic miracle, so called ‘The Miracle on Han River’ is a story of overcoming many hardships by the Korean people that led to the national transformation from poverty to prosperity. As a true friend, Korea would like to share the technological know-how and resources to help Sri Lanka achieve “the Miracle on Kelani River”. I can say that it is the right time for Sri Lanka to change and take a leap to a higher level. Korea is the very country that can assist Sri Lanka to reach the pinnacle of national development and prosperity.

I invite Korean investors to explore opportunities especially in the key sectors including agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, LNG, digital economy and so on. There is more potential for the business opportunities to expand between our two countries.

Likewise, what are the best opportunities for SL businesses in Korea?

Import and export relationship is also important as it is two wheels of the same vehicle. Sri Lanka is famous in Korea for rubber, coconut and graphite. Furthermore, apparel products including leather, fabric, and other agricultural items make a significant contribution to the Korean economy. I would also like to mention that Sri Lankan tea is very popular among Koreans for its high quality and distinct taste. 

Tourism is also another main aspect; 13,000 Koreans visited Sri Lanka last year. It is only 0.5% of the total tourism in Korea. I am confident that more tourists will arrive in Sri Lanka to enjoy the charm and beauty of the island as Sri Lanka was ranked as the top country to visit by the famous travel guidebook publisher,” Lonely Planet” in 2019.

How are Lankans in Korea contributing to Korea’s well being?

Approximately 23,000 Sri Lankan workers are employed in Korea under the Employment Permit System (EPS). The proactive engagement of the EPS centre has led to the first delegation of migrant workers heading for Korea and it has strengthened the strong bilateral relations of the two countries amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Republic of Korea is maintaining a strong policy of equal pay for equal work which applies to both Korean nationals and foreign workers including Sri Lankan people. Sri Lankan migrant workers have contributed greatly to uplift both economies. I consider them as civilian diplomats on Korean soil and the Republic of Korea is appreciative of their precious contribution to the Korean economy.

I hope to expand the labour collaboration between our two countries. 

S. Korea is one of the most creative countries. What are the keys to her success?

The Republic of Korea witnessed economic growth with the sheer hard work and dedication of its people. With the limited territory and natural resources, Korea has focused on education and investment on people. The strength of world-renowned enterprises such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG also empowered the Korean economy. With the technological advancement, Korea is a major force in several fields including smart devices, automotive, shipbuilding, and heavy industries. However primary industries such as mass agricultural production also contributed to the economic success in Korea.

The Korean cultural renaissance including K-pop and K- dramas have become popular globally and have also contributed to the economy and helped attract more tourists. Korea would like to share the success stories with Sri Lanka as Korea developed with limited resources, limited workforce. As the ambassador to the Republic of Korea, I love Sri Lanka, I love Sri Lankan people. I look forward to closely working with all of you to achieve our common goals. Let’s stay strong together!



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Galadari Colombo awarded ‘SLIM People’s Hotel Brand of the Year 2021’

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The Galadari Colombo was given a thumbs up from the people as the People’s Hotel Brand of the Year for the second time running at the recently concluded SLIM (Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing) People’s Awards 2021.

The uniqueness of the SLIM People’s Awards is the fact that it is awarded by the public which shows the popular choice of the Sri Lankan people.

This is the 15th successful running of the much-anticipated event conducted by SLIM in association with Nielsen which is globally renowned for its measurement and consumer insights.

Having stood the test time of time in the hospitality industry for more than 3 decades the Galadari Colombo is hopeful to remain in the hearts of its people as a brand that is trustworthy and dedicated to service.

 

 

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Expatriates’ organization painting competition for Sri Lankan children from care homes highlights close India-Sri Lanka ties

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Celebrating 75 years of India’s independence in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan children from care homes converged in Colombo from all across Sri Lanka over 10-11 April 2021 for the final round of the nationwide painting competition organized by Colombo Expatriates Cultural Association (CECA) – a voluntary organization of expatriates consisting of mainly Indians – with support of the High Commission of India, Ministry of Education of government of Sri Lanka and several other partners.

Prof. G.L Peiris, Minister of Education was the Chief Guest and Gopal Baglay, High Commissioner of India was the Guest of Honour at the final round. Several other dignitaries including State Minister Piyal Nishantha were also present. The dignitaries lauded the effort as a shining example of strong people-to-people ties between India and Sri Lanka and stressed the enormous significance of the enriching experience for the children.

The competition was held in three categories – Sub Junior, Junior and Senior. The first round of the competition had seen enthusiastic participation of 4,375 students from child care homes across Sri Lanka. Contestants from all provinces who had produced sixty best paintings were invited along with one care-giver for the final round held in Colombo on April 10 at Hotel Taj Samudra. While top three winners in all the three categories were awarded SLR 100,000, SLR 75,000 and SLR 50,000 respectively in addition to various other gifts, certificates and medals, all the 60 finalists received cash awards, desktop computers, and other gifts contributed by various sponsors.

The event also formed part of ‘India @ 75’ celebrations in Sri Lanka which comprise events and activities in the run up to completion of 75 years of India’s Independence in August 2022. Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi had launched these celebrations in India on March 12 2021, 75 weeks before the 75th Anniversary of Independence. In Sri Lanka, formal launch of these celebrations had taken place on April 9 2021 with the inauguration of ‘India Corner’ at the Nagananda Institute for Buddhist Studies.

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Chrissworld to raise Rs. 56.25 million through IPO

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

Chrissworld Ltd. (CWL), an SME company  engaged in the provision of third-party logistics (3PL) services, is gearing to raise up to Rs. 56.25 million via an initial public offering (IPO) on the Colombo Stock Exchange, sources said.

The company plans to offer 7,500,000 Ordinary Voting Shares for subscription at Rs. 7.50 per share. The subscription will open on April 27, with Atara Capital Partners representing the company as managers to the issue.

Meanwhile, the CSE noted in a statement that it has approved an application submitted by Chrissworld Ltd. for the listing of its Ordinary Voting Shares by way of an offer for subscription on the Empower Board of the CSE.

The company,  starting off with Rs. 6 million capital in 2019, expanded its capital to Rs. 22.5 million and projects to obtain Rs. 79 million after the IPO.

Chrissworld will be earmarking milestones with the IPO as the first to be listed on the Empower Board, CSE’s newest listing platform, dedicated to SMEs. Further, Central Depository Systems (Pvt.) Ltd., a subsidiary company of CSE, will step in for the first time as the registrar to the issue.

Amid those developments the CSE  started  on a bullish note yesterday and during the latter part of the day with heavy retail investor participation the CSE witnessed a bullish trend. It is said that manufacturing sector counters became the most popular stocks during the day. Notable price appreciation was reported in Hayleys Group, Royal Ceramic Group and  Distilleries.    

Both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 100.10 points and S and P SL20 rose by 49.18 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3.51 billion with a crossing. The crossing was reported in JKH, which crossed 1.32 million shares to the tune of Rs. 199.3 million and its share price was Rs. 151.

In the retail market, companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Royal Ceramic Rs. 511.2 million (1.46 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs. 359.9 million (4.5 million shares traded),  Hayleys Group Rs. 359.9 million (4.5 million shares traded), Dipped Products Rs. 321 million (5.5 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 290 million (1.9 million shares traded), and Haycarb Rs. 177 million (1.5 million shares traded). During the day 87.8 million share volumes changed hands in 23900 transactions.

Hayleys shares appreciated by Rs. 6 or eight percent. Its shares started trading at Rs. 75.90 and at the end of the day they moved to Rs. 82. Royal Ceramic shares appreciated by Rs. 13.5 or nine percent. Its shares started trading at Rs. 328.25 and at the end of the day they moved to Rs. 358.75. Expolanka shares appreciated by Rs. 2.70 or five percent. Its shares  started trading at Rs. 49.70 and at the end of the day they shot up to Rs. 52.40 and Distilleries shares appreciated by 70 cent or 3 percent from Rs. 20.20 to Rs. 20.90  

Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted steady at 202.00/203 to the one month US dollar Monday, while gilt yields remained unchanged, dealers said.

The rupee last closed in the one-week forward market at 202/203 to the US dollar on Friday. Sri Lanka markets were dull as seasonal bliss kicks in.

 

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