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Largest international textile sourcing show in South Asia kicks off

The 4th edition of Intex South Asia, the largest international textile sourcing show in South Asia, was inaugurated today at BMICH by H.E. Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka.  Ms. Indira Malwatte, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Mr. Sharad Amalean, Chairman, Joint Apparel Association Forum of Sri Lanka (JAAF), heads of several trade bodies, industry leaders and delegates from several countries were also present.  The event has been organized by Worldex India Exhibition and Promotion Pvt. Ltd. The event partners include the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (TEXPROCIL), Retailers Association of India, Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) etc.
High Commissioner H.E. Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Chairperson,  Export Development Board of Sri Lanka Mrs. Indira Malwatte also jointly inaugurated the India Pavilion organized by Federation of Indian Export Organistion (FIEO).
High Commissioner noted that Intex South Asia has become an annual event in Sri Lanka in the calendar of textile industry, which is a reflection of efforts of all stakeholders to turn a huge potential into reality. He also recalled Prime Minister of India H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi’s vision for textiles: “From Farm to Fibre, Fibre to Factory, Factory to Fashion, Fashion to Foreign.”
Underlining that India is the largest cotton and jute producer in the world and second largest textiles producer, as well as the second largest producer of silk in the world, High Commissioner added that there exists significant complementarity wherein Sri Lanka can source textile material from India and transform it into apparel and garments for rest of the world.  He encouraged Sri Lankan companies to be part of the supply and value chains of large Indian companies. He praised the contribution of Sri Lankan companies, who have made substantial investments in India in textile sector. He noted that events such as Intex South Asia, would go a long way in promoting the existing synergy between India and Sri Lanka.
High Commissioner touched upon Khadi, a hand spun fabric, which Mahatma Gandhi had popularized, as a symbol of freedom and self-respect. India is currently paying tribute to Gandhiji as part of his 150th birth anniversary celebrations. 

High Commissioner underscored that India’s rapid growth can bring dividends for the entire region, especially Sri Lanka.  He added that there is a lot India and Sri Lanka can do together rather than at individual levels.  He called upon the business community and industry leaders to innovate and grow together.  

The 4th edition of Intex South Asia has participation of over 200 suppliers from around 15 countries showcasing a wide variety of innovative textiles products such as yarns, apparels, denim clothing, accessories etc. Alongside the exhibition, there are also Interactive Business Forums, Fashion Fiesta,  Networking Reception, Fashion Show, B2B meetings, etc. The event concludes on 16 November 2018.

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Venora Lanka enters Africa's fastest growing economy

Venora Lanka Power Panels (Pvt) Ltd launched its manufacturing products in the Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia being the targeted market.

The Sri Lankan firm continued to attest the faith in Africa’s fastest growing economy that continues to lure foreign investments to aid in economic growth and development. 

The new investor joins Isebella Socks Manufacturing Plc and Hirdaramani Garments Plc, already existing Sri Lankan firms in Africa’s oldest independent country.

Foreign companies not only seek to expand their market in Africa with greener pastures but look to tap in the industrial potential available in the country. Foreign investors have ventured into the industrial sector, that offers a variety of business investment opportunities. The construction of industrial parks has opened new doors of opportunities for companies with a view of creating jobs.

Ethiopia is looking to increase its GDP by 11 percent annually in the next ten years with the manufacturing sector growth projected to increase by about 25 percent every year. 

Ethiopia’s target by 2025 is to be the leading manufacturing hub in Africa. The country counts on inflows of foreign investments to catapult the ambitious goal while creating a conducive business environment for businesses.

Export-oriented manufacturer Venora Lanka Power Panels which works with world-renowned brands such as Schneider Electric, ABB, and Rexton has partnered with Ethiopian firms, namely Eulogia Electromechanical PLC and Horra Trading PLC. 

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia Sumith Dassanayake has encouraged Sri Lankan and Ethiopian business people to work together to strengthen the bilateral ties between their respective countries through trade and investment.

Venora Lanka was recognized by the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) at the 25th Export Awards held at Colombo Hilton for its excellent performance clinching the Bronze category Award in the industrial sector last year.

Other accolades the firm has scooped include the award for Quality and Business Prestige in November 2005 in Geneva Switzerland, Arch of Europe for Quality and Technology- Frankfurt in 2012.

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Senior banker Aswin de Silva steps down as NSB Chairman

Aswin De Silva has resigned from the post of Chairman of the state-owned National Savings Bank (NSB) on Monday, Mr. de Silva confirmed. 

De Silva is a senior banker with more than 20 years of experience at American Express- Asia. He is FCA, FCMA and FCPA (Australia)-qualified.  During the past year, NSB saw record profitability at LKR 14 billion.

NSB asset base was recorded at LKR 1 trillion, a growth 28 per cent in the last three years. NSB also saw the lowest non performing loans in the industry at 1.4 per cent last year. Under Aswin De Silva's stewardship, NSB recently raised a USD 100 million loan facility supported by Commerzbank AG.

The excellent relationship that NSB enjoys with its banking partners has allowed NSB access to a competitive interest rate despite the current global trend of interest rate increases. 

The facility was arranged jointly by Dubai based Alpen Capital (ME) Limited and NDB Investment Bank of Sri Lanka. The funds were required as part repayment of USD 750 million which NSB borrowed from international markets in 2013 through an international bond issuance.

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Sri Lanka halts sugar imports after government hikes duty and fixes domestic price

Sri Lankan importers have temporarily stopped importing sugar after the government hiked import duty and imposed a maximum domestic retail price, which made imports uneconomical, market sources said. The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) of Sri Lanka fixed the maximum retail price for white sugar at Rupee 100/kg on October 12, which is equivalent to $578.54/mt, for non-packaged and Rupee 105/kg for packaged. The maximum retail price for wholesale sugar was fixed at Rupee 92/kg.

"Before the hike in duty, the landed cost of Sugar in Sri Lanka was between Rupee 85-90/kg [after tax] so there was still margin to be made with the maximum retail price in place," a trader said.

The Sri Lankan government scrapped the special commodity levy of Sri Lankan Rupee 31/kg on sugar imports and brought it under the normal tax purview, increasing the import duty on sugar to Rupee 44.5/kg effective from October 18.

"The import tax was hiked to reduce imports and improve the balance of payments issue to support the [Sri Lankan] Rupee," a Sri Lankan trader said.

The Sri Lankan Rupee is down 12.66 % year to date at Rupee 172.6849 against the dollar on Wednesday.

The rally in sugar prices since the maximum domestic retail price was announced and the duty hike has increased the import cost to Rupee 103-107/kg, making it unfeasible to continue imports, market sources said.

Offers for Indian low quality white sugar since October 12 have increased from $315-$320/mt CFR Colombo to $345-350/mt CFR Colombo on Thursday, S&P Global Platts data showed.

Since the maximum domestic retail price was set, the prompt-month London No.5 white sugar futures has firmed by 6.65% to $387.7/mt on Wednesday.

However, some importers of white sugar into Sri Lanka are optimistic that the budget announcement on November 8 will help them by either reducing the duty or lifting the maximum retail price for sugar.

"The stop in [sugar] imports has to be short term since Sri Lanka relies almost entirely on imports and does not have a huge stock domestically," a North Asian trader said.

Sri Lanka has an estimated demand of 790,000 mt of white sugar for the 2018-19 (October-September) season, with a domestic production of 55,000 mt and expected imports of 565,000 mt, S&P Global Platts Analytics data showed.


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Sri Lanka Tea takes 10% share In Chinese market

Sri Lanka tea exporters to China are increasing and the country has been able to take 10% share of the Chinese tea market, Assistant Director, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Dhanushka  Karunaratne said. He said that there is specially a growing demand from young Chinese towards Sri Lanka tea.

Karunaratne was speaking at the Sino – Sri Lanka Economic and Trade Forum where over 30 Chinese investors from Beijing participated.

Karunaratne said that in 2015, Sri Lanka was not even among the top ten exporters of tea to China and two years later Sri Lanka was able to move to top eighth position. In 2014 Sri Lankan supplied 6,105 million KG to China and in 2016 this was increase to 8,525 million KG while India was in the second position supplying 5,485 MKG of tea in 2016. Other three major exporters of tea to china are Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Meanwhile Additional Secretary, Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, Madhawa Waidyaratna said that the Urban Development Authority (UDA) is still striving to make Colombo the most livable city in the region which in turn would encourage more investments to Sri Lanka. He also said that The Colombo Port City Development project too would be a game changer to woo FDI to Sri Lanka and Chinese entrepreneurs should look at these developments close and try to invest.He also said that the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development would look at more infrastructure development projects in the future. “The light railway would be such a high priority project.”

He also outlined the economic and industrial zones that are being planned and executed by the UDA focusing on several regions of Sri Lanka. The event was coordinated by Peacock Safari and Holidays China.

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Lanka Tiles invests LKR 2.5 billion to increase production capacity

Lanka Tiles, Sri Lanka’s largest manufacturer of floor and wall tiles, has ventured overseas and diversified its business becoming the only local export brand to bear the country’s image, Managing Director of Lanka Tiles, Mahendra Jayasekera said.

The company currently exports around 20 percent of its production capacity to overseas high quality markets such as Japan, Canada, Australia as well as to certain countries in the European Union. 

It has many business interests under the Lanka Wall Tiles and Lanka Tiles PLC group now, encompassing investments in aluminium, tile adhesive, plantations and packaging, Jayasekera said.. 

In its most recent expansion,  Lanka Tiles added 6,000 square meters of production to its capacity, at a cost of LKR 2.5 billion, at the factory complex in Ranala. 

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New manufacturing plant in Ranala

Jayasekera said that the company expects to remain a dominant player in the local market, and to give a better product to local and overseas buyers. 

At present, Lanka Tiles is  producing 13,000 square meters of floor tiles and 7,500 square meters of wall tiles a day while bringing the best of the world to Sri Lanka, and beyond. 

Lanka Tiles is quickly becoming a brand that is globally recognised for quality.

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Central Bank creates awareness on 'Doing Business' in Sri Lanka

The Central Bank has taken measures to create awareness on carrying out businesses in Sri Lanka by releasing the eighth edition of the “A Step by Step Guide to Doing Business in Sri Lanka”.
This has been categorized under three main chapters; ‘Starting a Business’, ‘During the Business’ and ‘Other Activities’ and contains useful information for the business community, potential entrepreneurs, foreign investors and investment promotion agencies.
Under each topic, comprehensive information is provided on relevant institutions, documentary requirements, regulatory clearances and associated costs.
Furthermore, the necessary amendments up to mid-2018 gathered from relevant institutions are incorporated into this edition.guidelines recently with the aim of promoting local business.
The current political situation has pulled back the progress made through various economic reforms and has drastically affected the business environment, analysts said, adding that it is essential to restore political stability in the country soon.

New Business activities came had come to a grinding halt during the past ten days following President Sirisena's unconstitutional removal of a Prime Minister and by proroguing Parliament, they claimed.

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Sri Lanka’s first national SME study calls for apex Commission 

Sri Lanka’s first ever nation-wide study on the country’s SMEs recommend an apex SME Advisory Commission integrating the three top national SME institutions under one roof.

It has also suggested  Sri Lanka’s first ever SME Industrial Zone, a national SME portal ‘e-platform’, and an SME-only licensing agency on the lines of BoI.

This study focuses on three aspects-they are the current business environment relating to Small and Medium Enterprises in Sri Lanka the prevailing Institutional Framework supporting the sector and the Regulatory Framework that relates to the SMEs” Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said. 

He was addressing the special presentation of the second draft report of ‘Legal and Institutional Study for Creating Enabling Environment for SMEs’ –a study commissioned by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce at a cost of Rs 3.2 Million. 

It was conducted by Ernst & Young (E&Y) also focusing on the creation of a more conducive environment for SMEs while transforming them to large-scale sustainable business enterprises and linking them to export markets. 

The pioneering national Survey covered 20 Ministries that serve the business sector with over 90 of their Departments, authorities and councils established under them.  The legal review of the study includes laws and regulations applicable to SMEs in no less than 15 aspects.

Minister Bathiudeen stressed: “There are more than one million registered SMEs in Sri Lanka providing employment to three million. When we take the unregistered SMEs the numbers will be much more. 

Among the key recommendations of the study are an apex SME Advisory Commission for the country bringing the three top institutions active in entrepreneurship (NEDA, IDB and SED-Small Enterprise Development) under one umbrella'

IT would transform to Sri Lanka SME Authority –the apex SME body for national-level coordination of the critical sector in economy-the SMEs.

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Emirates plays critical role in Sri Lankan Exports

Many of Sri Lanka’s exports are colourful, tasty or fragrant and must arrive at their destinations on time and in pristine condition, a service Emirates SkyCargo continues to provide with distinction.

According to figures released by the Colombo office of the award-winning airline, its freight division transported 27,000 tonnes of cargo from Colombo in 2017-18, a significant 23 per cent of the 118,000 tonnes of goods the island exported by air in the year.

With 28 flights from and into Colombo weekly, and the capacity to carry approximately 20 tons of cargo in the belly hold of each Boeing 777 aircraft, Emirates SkyCargo is one of the main carriers of Sri Lanka’s trade commodities and thus makes a noteworthy contribution to the national economy.

Edible fish, fruit and vegetables, flowers and other cut foliage and readymade garments are among the principal exports that SkyCargo transports from Sri Lanka to markets around the world.

An important volume of Sri Lankan exports are perishables and Emirates SkyCargo offers specialised air transport solutions  under the ‘Emirates Fresh’ umbrella that help maintain the freshness of the goods being transported.

Emirates Fresh is backed by Emirates’ modern fleet of over 270 aircraft, robust processes, experienced staff as well as state of the art cool chain facilities at its hub in Dubai.

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Private sector gets green light to maintain Inland Clearance Depots

Sri Lanka government has given permission for the private sector to maintain Inland Clearance Depots for cargo classified as Less Than Container Loads or LCL, Finance Ministry announced.

 Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera has signed the relevant gazette notification promulgating necessary regulations allowing private firms to maintain such bonded where houses with retrospective effect from the 01st of October 2018. 

Accordingly, the Inland Clearance Depots will handle the import, export, and transshipment or LCL Cargo with effect from the 1st of October.   The aim is to facilitate increasing international trade flow and reduce congestion at ports and air ports. 

The relevant licenses could be obtained for Sri Lanka Customs with the approval from the Minister of Finance to set up Inland Clearance Depots to handle the import, export and transshipments including the Multi Country Consolidation.   

A LKR 500,000 annual license fee for the maintenance of Inland Clearance Depots will also be levied, the Finance Ministry said. 

Permission has also been granted to private firms in maintaining LCL Inland Clearance Depots on capital imports of capital goods to manufacture medicinal drugs, dairy industry, and disposal of garbage. 

The media release also noted that taxes will not be imposed on capital goods.

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Epic sweeps the board at National Best Quality ICT Awards - 2018 

Epic Technology Group cemented its position as the country’s premier Fintech solution provider by securing the coveted ‘Overall Gold Award’, ‘Overall Bronze’ and eight other accolades at the recently concluded 20th National Best Quality ICT Awards 2018 (NBQSA), conducted by the Sri Lankan chapter of the BCS and the Chartered Institute for IT.

Epic demonstrated its dominance in the industry by becoming the most awarded organization of the night by bagging three Golds, one Silver, two Bronzes and three merit awards. Further recognizing the technological prowess of the organization, Epic Lanka’s Executive Chairman Dr. Nayana Dehigama said.

Epic was honoured with the BCS Sri Lanka Chairman’s Award in recognition of its outstanding contribution to Sri Lanka’s ICT sector over the last two decades.

Displaying its drive for innovation and disruption as Sri Lanka’s trend-setting FinTech powerhouse, the group clinched the National Overall Gold Award as well as the Financial Category Gold award for their Epic Card Management System (CMS).

This system can issue the smart cards, maintain the smart cards while in use and finally take the smart cards out of use.

Chip/smart cards provide the foundation for secure electronic identity, and can be used to control access to facilities, networks or computers.

As the smart cards are security credentials for authenticating the smart card holder  the security requirements for a smart card management system are often high and therefore the vendors of these systems are found in the computer security industry.

The Terminal Line Encryption (TLE) Version 05, a secured channel-encryption solutionamong local and global financial institutions, won the Overall Bronze Award and the Gold Award in the Security Category.

While the Omni-Channel Synchronizer received the Silver Award in the Financial Category, Epic’s digital priority banking solution—Epic Premier Plus—clinched the Research and Development Category Bronze Award.

The three merit awards received by Epic were the Financial Category Merit for EPIC Automatic Reconciliation and Dispute Management Solution and Government and Public Sector Category Merits for DoxPro- SEA (Seafarer's Electronic Application System) and DoxPro-Single Window Platform solutions.

“There can be no better acknowledgement of the emphasis we place on service excellence than to be adjudged the best overall in the ICT sector in Sri Lanka,” Dr. Dehigama said.

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Insurance industry records 12.6% growth in GWP in first half

The insurance industry was able to achieve a growth of 12.60% in terms of overall Gross Written Premium (GWP), during the 1st half of 2018 recording an increase of Rs. 9,593 million when compared to the same period in the year 2017, a release from the  Insurance Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka said.

The GWP for Long Term Insurance and General Insurance Businesses for the 1st half of 2018was Rs. 85,755 million compared to the 1st half of 2017 amounting to Rs. 76,162 million posting a growth of 12.60% (1st half 2017: 13.87%). The GWP of Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 37,902 million (1st half 2017:Rs. 33,657 million) recording a growth of 12.61% (1st half 2017: 11.06%).

The GWP of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 47,853 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 42,505million) recording a growth of 12.58% (1st half 2017: 16.20%).

The value of total assets of insurance companies has increased to Rs. 581,770million as at end of 1st half of2018, when compared to Rs. 533,075millionrecorded as at end of 1st half of 2017, reflecting a growth of 9.13% (1st half 2017: 11.42%).The assets of Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 407,708 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 375,159 million) indicating a growth rate of 8.68% year-on-year.However, the growth of assets of long term insurance business has significantly dropped compared to 15.93% growth recorded during 1st half of 2017.

The assets of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 174,062 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 157,915 million) depicting a growth rate of 10.23% (1st Half 2017: 2%) at the end of 1st half of 2018. Accordingly, the growth of assets of general insurance business has shown a significant increase compared to the same period of 2017.

At the end of 1st half of 2018, investment in Government Debt Securities amounted to Rs. 176,471 million representing 47.48% (1st half 2017: Rs. 175,627;51.32%) of the total investments of Long Term Insurance Business, while such investment of the total investment of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 42,486 million representing 37.98%.

Accordingly, the total investment of both Long Term Insurance Business andGeneral Insurance Business in Government Securities amounted to Rs. 218,957million (1st half 2017: Rs. 211,599million).

Thus, the investment in Government Securities of Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business has increased by 0.48% and 18.11% respectively.

The claims incurred by insurance companies during the 1st half of 2018 in both Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business was Rs. 38,422 million (1st half 2017:Rs. 32,249 million) showing an increase in total claims amount by 19.14% year-on-year. The Long Term Insurance claims, including maturity and death benefits, amounted to Rs. 16,104 million. The claims incurred in General Insurance Business, including Motor, Fire, Marine and other categories, amounted to Rs. 22,318 million.

The profit (before tax) of insurance companies as at end of 1st half of 2018in both Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 21,656million (1st half, 2017: Rs. 4,660 million) showing an increase in total profit amount by 364.71%.The profit (before tax) of Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 17,319 million (1st half 2017: Rs. 738 million) while the profit (before tax) of General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 4,337 million. Thus, profit (before tax) of Long Term Insurance Business and General Insurance Business has increased by 2,246.57% and 10.57% respectively.

Out of twenty-six (26) insurance companies in operation as at 30th June2018, twelve are engaged in Long Term (Life) Insurance Business, twelve companies are carrying out only General Insurance Business and two are composite companies.

Fifty-nine insurance brokering companies, registered with the Commission as at 30th June2018, mainly concentrate in General Insurance Business. The premium income generated through insurance brokering companies in the 1st half of 2018 with respect to General Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 11,560 million, 13.48% of total GWP (1st half 2017: Rs. 9,915 million; 13.01% of total GWP) while the premium income generated with respect to Long Term Insurance Business amounted to Rs. 353 million, 0.41% of total GWP.

The total premium income generated through insurance brokering companies with respect to both General Insurance and Long Term Insurance Businesses amounted to Rs. 11,913 million, 13.89% of total GWP, during 1st half of 2018, compared to Rs. 10,055 million, 13.20% of total GWP during the 1st half of previous year.

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