By Steve A. Morrell
Addressing the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Council for Business with Britain (CBB), convened at the British High Commission, he said that at present 150 British companies are operative in Sri Lanka.
The quantum of trade, in financial terms, was at 850 million Pounds Sterling, and at that level trade relations between both countries were good. Britain is among the top 10 investors in Sri Lanka and trade possibilities are growing, the High Commissioner noted.
Commenting on recent political changes in Sri Lanka, he said projections were that bi-lateral trade and government–to– government relationships improved significantly. “I believe that future programs would continue within traditional good relations exemplified over many years”.
Peace initiatives in the North, notably, Jaffna, Mullaitivu, and other Northern locations paved the way for positive rapprochement between communities, which was key to bring about accelerated reconciliation. Consequently, strength of these moves would result in economic progress in these areas that would benefit the Northern Peninsula and its potential for progress, Dauris said.
Consequent to the global financial downturn and its recovery, the UK recovery was fifth among recovering countries, and within that context the UK economy and its progress was valued at US$ 3 Trillion. The recent World Bank report supported the healthy economic atmosphere in the UK, and doing business with Britain is a lucrative proposition., he stressed.
Director, The British Council in Colombo, Keith Davis said the student reach in English learning from 2007 to 2015 increased within context of their training program for English language teachers. About 3,350 teachers were trained. The student program indicated that 170,000 students benefitted from learning English. These programs were not relegated to urban locations only, but spread throughout the country including rural schools, he said.
The program commenced in 2005 is now in phase 7. The training course, of six months duration, included functional skills in English and Math. Teachers trained by the British Council could be absorbed by the department of education to further requirements in English language and its use, Davis noted.
Knowledge in English and its functional use was growing to garner greater knowledge for all round use to fit growing needs for individual professional progress. Of 270,000 students who took GCE exams, English competencies were merely under 40 percent, he said.
Past Chairman, CBB, Anil Wijesinghe, said bi-lateral trade between Sri Lanka and Britain progressed over the past year, and indications were that such interests would expand to wider interest areas.
He also said the CBB was identifying opportunities for business with the UK. The promising trend that there was already a strong bearing that trade enquiries were increasing and consequently, such areas would expand was part of positive contributions of the CBB, which augers well for bi-lateral trade between both countries.
Support from HSBC and the World Bank was noted with salutary appreciation.