SL-Germany discuss fast-tracking and facilitating German investments

The Sri Lanka-Germany Fast Track Dialogue was held recently at the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade with the objectives of addressing central issues faced by German enterprises operating in Sri Lanka under the BOI as well as facilitating new investments.

Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama led the Sri Lankan delegation assisted by Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) Chairman Mangala Yapa and Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade W.A.D.S. Gunasinghe, the Ministry said in a press release.

Also present were members of key Sri Lankan institutions, whose inputs were essential to ensure a rapid resolution of the matters discussed.

The German delegation was led by Ambassador of Germany in Sri Lanka Jorn Rohde, who was assisted by Chief Delegate Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (AHK) Andreas Hergenroether. The German companies present were B. Braun Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., DHL Keells (Pvt.) Ltd., Eskimo Fashion Knitwear (Pvt.) Ltd., Go Vacation Sri Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., DER Touristk, Hellmann MAS Supply Chain (Pvt.) Ltd., Kramski Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., Ceylon Oxygen Ltd., and Wurth Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd.

Minister Samarawickrama welcomed the German delegation. He stated that Germany was a very important trading partner for Sri Lanka, with a volume of trade totalling € 1.2 billion. The Minister added that there was an important trade and investment delegation to Germany in 2018, but recent events impacted on the inroads made in taking economic relations even further.

The Minister commended Germany for establishing a culture of punctuality, precision, and high standards of integrity. He added that on the Sri Lankan side, institutions such as the BOI and EDB were making a strong effort to facilitate business and eliminate bottlenecks faced by investors and exporters.

Ambassador Jorn Rohde stated economic relations should ideally resemble the German autobahns, providing speedy solutions to all issues. Germany welcomed any effort aimed at improving Sri Lankan’s business climate and also the resolution of any issues faced by German SMEs. He wanted to see a return of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka since the Easter Sunday events.

Minister Samarawickrama reassured the German side, adding that security is strengthened at the airport and hotels. Furthermore, a tourism promotion campaign will be held in Berlin to address tourists and travel agents and educate them about Sri Lanka. A total of eight leading tourism generating countries were targeted for a recovery plan. Four tourism roadshows will be held in Berlin, Stuttgart, and other German cities.

The issues specific to German investors to which solutions were sought include the registration of disinfectant products under the National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA), VAT refunds for several German companies, issues relating to the recovery of the tourism industry, issues relating to cargo handling, monies owed to German companies, tender procedures, and payment of demurrages.

Many of these outstanding matters were resolved or studied for a solution to be arrived at under a time frame to solve them.