The United States and Sri Lanka marked the fourteenth Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council Meeting in Colombo today (18), solidifying their commitment to enhancing trade and investment relations. The technical level meeting, co-chaired by K.J. Weerasinghe of the Government of Sri Lanka and Brendan Lynch, Acting Assistant United States Trade Representative for South and Central Asia, witnessed productive discussions on a wide range of crucial issues.
Julie Chung, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Chandanie Wijayawardhana, Acting Secretary to the President, set the tone with their opening remarks, acknowledging the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two nations.
During the TIFA Council meeting, both delegations addressed policies impacting the investment climate, recent labour reforms, intellectual property protection and enforcement, customs and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade and market access for apparel, gem and jewellery and agricultural products. The discussions also extended to collaboration and technical assistance in areas such as the digital economy, gem and jewellery industry, horticulture, boat building sectors and the Coconut Research Institute’s technology transfer and research commercialization.
Transparency and efficiency in approving foreign direct investment (FDI) were emphasized as key drivers of domestic economic growth and foreign investment attraction. The United States underscored the importance of adopting robust anti-corruption measures and Sri Lanka provided updates on its proposed anti-corruption legislation, seeking technical assistance and training from the U.S. government.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to workers’ rights was highlighted and Sri Lanka outlined its ongoing labour law reform efforts. The United States stressed the importance of consulting relevant stakeholders and ensuring public review and comment in the process. Sri Lanka detailed its procedures for labour law reforms, with the United States expressing readiness to support these efforts.
Both nations discussed the reduction of agricultural trade barriers to enhance food security in Sri Lanka. The United States advocated for greater market access for U.S. exports of agricultural products, including animal feed. Biotechnology’s role in sustainable agriculture and food security was also explored.
Intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement were affirmed as crucial for bilateral trade and innovation. Sri Lanka shared updates on its IP legislative reforms and the United States offered capacity building support.
The meeting concluded with both governments committing to making sustained progress on trade issues, looking ahead to the next TIFA Council Meeting scheduled for 2024. The fourteenth TIFA Council Meeting served as a testament to the United States and Sri Lanka’s dedication to strengthening their economic ties and fostering mutual prosperity.
HNB renews partnership with Prime Group for exclusive home loans
Paving the path for aspiring homeowners, Sri Lanka’s leading private sector bank, HNB PLC, renewed its long-standing partnership with local real estate giant Prime Group to offer investors exclusive deals and benefits.
The partnership will offer customers a range of benefits, including special interest rates during the September and October promotional period. The exclusive offer extends to all properties across Prime Group’s extensive portfolio, including highly anticipated Prime Residencies projects, such as The Grand Ward Place, The Beachfront Uswetakeiyawa II and 43 by the Sea on Marine Drive, Dehiwala.
“Building your own home in Sri Lanka can be quite a challenge. The escalating costs of construction, driven by rising inflation, have added to the struggle. We at HNB remain steadfast in our commitment to empower every Sri Lankan to own a home of their own. As such, we are delighted to partner with Prime Group again to offer our customers affordable financing options and exceptional services,” HNB Assistant General Manager – Personal Financial Services (PFS), Kanchana Karunagama, said.
Delivering the best value to its customers, HNB will offer special interest rates during the promotional period. Prospective homeowners can make use of convenient and flexible repayment options tailor-made to their budgets, together with doorstep mortgage advisory services provided by the Bank’s dedicated agents, who will assist with the legal documentation needed for the facility.
“As Prime Group, our mission is to empower Sri Lankans with the chance to achieve homeownership, allowing them to find stability and make the most of these challenging times. Therefore, it is a pleasure for us to partner with HNB in serving our customers,” Prime Group Director – Corporate Affairs Nalinda Heenatigala said.
SLT-MOBITEL empowers Apple iPhone users across Sri Lanka to embrace 5G revolution
SLT-MOBITEL is providing a groundbreaking opportunity, enabling customers with latest Apple iPhone devices to experience the best of 5G technology through its state-of-the-art 5G trial network. Apple users who have 5G compatible iPhone devices and with the latest iOS 17 update can now experience 5G when they are in a SLT-MOBITEL 5G trial zone.
Recognising 5G as a game-changer, SLT-MOBITEL was the first to trial 5G technology in South Asia in 2018 and has been at the forefront of the 5G revolution in Sri Lanka ever since. Recently, SLT-MOBITEL expanded its 5G pre-commercial trial network across main cities including Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Galle, and Jaffna, setting pathways for customers to seamlessly explore the possibilities of 5G technology.
Celebrating the new offering, SLT-MOBITEL is providing its customers with an amazing 10GB of free trial data on the lightning-fast 5G network. The trial data allows users to explore the capabilities of 5G without an initial cost and harness the full power of 5G technology, unlocking a world of new possibilities.SLT-MOBITEL extends a special invitation to customers who own 5G enabled iPhone 12 devices and beyond, to seize this exciting opportunity and become part of the 5G revolution by updating their eligible iOS device.
SLPA poised as an exemplary model for SOEs, says its chairman
Keith D. Bernard – the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), welcoming the attendees as chair, made this comments at the Annual Performance Review Meeting (APRM) of SLPA for the year 2022. The meeting was held on September 14, 2023, at its headquarters in Colombo.Entities incorporated under any statute other than the Companies Act must have an APRM every year where the annual report is presented. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was established under Act No. 51 of 1970.
In terms of the Guidelines for Corporate Governance of PED Circular No. 1/2021 dated November 16, 2021, it is important that the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) maintain continuous communication with their stakeholders at all times through mandatory requirements such as the Annual Report. Such disclosure of information ensures transparency and accountability without compromising any statutory or operational requirements of the entity.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of SLPA expressed his perspective on the organisation’s future direction. He acknowledged SLPA’s recent achievements and progress in completing the East Container Terminal (ECT) and stressed the need for strategic planning with government support for the future.
“At present, SLPA serves as the regulator, operator, and landlord of our ports. In our capacity as the landlord, we possess assets throughout the country, and all commercial ports fall under the purview of SLPA. Additionally, we compete directly with private operators as operators ourselves. Therefore, we must carefully consider whether our role as operators should remain independent or involve collaboration with other operators. It’s crucial that we approach this strategically and define our precise role in this sector for the future,” he said.
Bernard also highlighted the significance of conducting a self-assessment in the pursuit of good governance within the organisation.
“We have commendable ministerial support and boast a talented team of dedicated professionals who tirelessly work towards the success of our port. While we have encountered challenges in the past, we are confident that, leveraging our strengths, we can overcome any hurdles. SLPA has the potential to serve as an exemplary model for the private sector, leading the way and becoming a guiding beacon for all institutions in Sri Lanka,” he said.
The Additional Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises – B.A.T. Rodrigo, commenting at the event, mentioned that in comparison to the other state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Sri Lanka, SLPA is the leading SOE amongst them and has been a role model to other SOEs. He wished SLPA would continue doing so in the future. He also thanked the Chairman, the Board of Directors, and the Management of SLPA for arranging the APRM adhering to the good governance guidelines.
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