The Sri Lanka-Maldives Business Council (SLMBC) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce held its 9th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday, 25 August at Hilton Colombo Residences with Maldives High Commission Charge D’ Affairs Khadheeja Najeeha attending the event as its Chief Guest.
Welcoming members and guests to the event, SLMBC President Niral Kadawatharatchie said: “As we all know, the main objective of our business council is to promote trade and tourism between the two countries and also to facilitate investments. In this context, we have done well. If you look at the figures indicated in the annual report, you will see that trade has increased from Rs. 10 billion in 2015 to Rs. 14 billion in 2016. Tourist arrivals in 2016 have also been increased from 90,000 in 2015 to 95,000 in 2016. It is just a 5% increase but hopefully it will be better in the years to come.
“We have done well on both counts, but I would like to urge all our members in the council to do more. The secretariat is actively involved in promoting trade, tourism and investments in the Maldives. One of the areas that we are actively promoting is trade exhibitions held in the Maldives. Our members are welcome to take part in the Hotel Asia exhibition in the Maldives. We are more than happy to help any Sri Lankan company willing to participate in these exhibitions held in the Maldives. This is one easy way to promote trade. This method has been proven very successful.”
Delivering the keynote speech, Charge D’ Affairs Najeeha said: “The close bond of friendship that the Maldivian people and the people of Sri Lanka share is unmatched. There are no two countries which are socially, culturally and economically closer than the Maldives and Sri Lanka. These close ties have been further strengthened over the years by closer trade relations between the two countries. Maldivians have from time immemorial relied heavily on the purchase of various products from Sri Lanka and in return Sri Lankans have been fond of fish products from the Maldives.
“Today, this traditional merchant-to-merchant trade has been intensified over the decades in the form of supplying shipments in bulk and through various other services. Moreover, trade relations have been further strengthened by the significant increase of Sri Lankan investments in the Maldives and Maldivian business ventures in Sri Lanka.”
Freight Links International Ltd. President/CEO Niral Kadawatharatchie was re-elected as the President of the Sri Lanka-Maldives Business Council for 2017/2018.
Director of Eastern and Allied Agencies Ltd. Shenali Panabokke and Marketing Manager – Exports of Kelani Cables Plc Devinda Lorensuhewa were appointed as the Vice Presidents of the Council and Aitken Spence Travels Ltd. Assistant Vice President Tikiri Ellepola will serve the committee as the immediate Past President.
A. Baur & Co. Ltd, CIC Holdings Plc, Cinnamon Hotel Management Ltd, CMA CGM Lanka, E.B. Creasy & Company Plc, Finlay Insurance Brokers, International Construction Consortium, Malship (Ceylon) Ltd. and Pyramid Wilmar Ltd. were appointed committee members of the council for 2017/2018.
The Sri Lanka-Maldives Bilateral Business Council was inaugurated on 25 May 2007 under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at its 19th bilateral business council with the objective of promoting trade, investment and tourism between Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Since the inauguration, membership has grown rapidly. To date 105 companies have obtained membership on the council.
SLMBC Vice President Shenali Panabokke in her vote of thanks expressed the gratitude of the council to the Maldivian Embassy in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Embassy in the Maldives, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and also the membership for their continued support towards the activities of the council. The AGM was followed by cocktails and fellowship.