Be ready for mergers, acquisitions as economy opens up, Sri Lankan firms told

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s progress depends on open trade, integrating with global production networks and import of foreign investment and expertise not available locally and not merely through organic or internal growth, a policymaker said.

"We need to network, to merge and acquire, have people coming and going," said Harsha De Silva, State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs.

"The way to go is to have policies to allow technology, expertise, know how, to flow in," he told an economic forum in Colombo organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in response to a question how information technology firms can ramp up export earnings to $5 billion by 2022 from $1.2 billion today.

One way is to have free trade agreements with other countries like the one signed with Singapore.

"Another is to relax immigration laws," De Silva said. “How any people who started companies in Silicon Valley were born in California? Less than 10 percent. How does Singapore grow?"

De Silva said that if Sri Lanka is to speed up economic growth and make people more prosperous, it has to think about integrating better with the rest of the world for which the government was creating the required policies.

"How are we going to fill the Port City? Sri Lanka organically can’t," De Silva said, referring to the Chinese-funded reclamation off Colombo to build a financial city meant to draw international investors.

The project will create residential, commercial and retail space several orders of magnitude more than existing facilities, in Sri Lanka and abroad, such as Canary Wharf in London.

De Silva said people were "even criticising the Singapore FTA. I tell them please don’t be misled by cheap political nonsense.

"We need investments to come in," he said, noting the need to lower border taxes so local firms can become part of global production networks. (COLOMBO, 14 September, 2018)





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