Dr Srimal Fernando South Asia Correspondent
Colombo, 1st April 2012
Sri Lanka Expo 2012, under the theme ‘Partnering with the Hub of Asia’ was one of the biggest trade promotion events that took place at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Cultural Hall (BMICH) in Colombo from 28th to 31st March 2012. Such an event is believed to promote exports, imports and investments to Sri Lanka. The four-day premier international trade fair was ceremonially inaugurated by Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Expo played a very important role in trade promotion activities that attracted more than 350 manufacturers from Sri Lanka and over 1,300 international trade visitors along with several foreign ministerial and officials across the globe.
The Expo 2012 was an international-scale business-to-business exhibition of the best Sri Lankan products aimed at attracting foreign buyers. In addition to increase trading transactions, this four day premier exhibition was to boost the opportunities in new markets while maintaining traditional ones. Over 300 stalls at Expo 2012 showcased most of Sri Lanka export products ranging from agricultural and process foods to industrial and craft sectors received big crowds.
On the sidelines of the “Sri Lanka Expo 2012 an Investment Forum, Trade symposium on Tourism and a wide range of activities including seminars was held during the four-day exhibition. Expo 2012 offered an exciting platform and a business window for launching new and improved technologies targeting both the local and regional markets. The Expo 2012 served as a knowledge base on the Sri Lanka’s latest inventions and innovations and a platform for businesses to business exchange.
Promising more rewarding opportunities for its participants showcased portfolios of more than five different products at the A-section of the exhibition area. Exports of garments and textiles are one of the main sources of foreign exchange incomes for Sri Lanka. There are about 900 factories throughout the country serving the world’s leading fashion designing companies like Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Secret and Liz Claiborne. The Expo offered the visitors an attractive experience of 20 apparel sector enterprises with 53 booths. Especially well-known companies such as MAS holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Brandix Lanka Ltd and Hirdarmani Group of companies had their booths at the exhibition.
The word Sri Lanka is associated with a Tea beverage rather than anything else. Ceylon Tea is widely and universally acknowledged for the production of high quality tea. Unlike small-scale farmers, large-scale growers such as Dilmah, Akbar bro, Finley’s Teas and the Sri Lanka Tea Board that promote quality Ceylon Tea bags globally had their booths at section A of the Expo 2012. The rest of the 42 stalls at the section of the hall were for the companies that exhibited the gems, diamond and jewellery, footwear, leather and for the handloom products.
The Sri Lankan economy has witnessed rapid growth in the rubber industry. The 19 stalls at the section-B of the exhibition area were designed to interact and create significant business relationships with the key players in the Sri Lankan rubber industry. At the same venue was Samson Rubber Industries that exports DSI tyres to more than 50 countries across six continents. The largest ceramics and porcelain manufacturing companies had eight booths at the same spot inside the BMICH. The Royal Fernwood Porcelain manufacturers of quality porcelain dinnerware products showcased classic variety of designs at the Expo to the buyers and visitors from home and abroad.
Rice, tea, rubber and coconut, cultivations as well as to fruits, spices and vegetables are the main agro based crops which are grown in the island. The government has introduced a range of incentives to enable farmers to boost production and to increase quantity and quality. The C-section at the exhibition area facilitated 62 stalls to well-known international-class culinary products and processed food companies for trade and business exchange among the participatants. The Maliban Biscuits established in Sri Lanka in the early fifties was one of the most impressive exhibitors at the same venue. The premier biscuits company received the Global Performance Excellence Award in 2011 from the Asia Pacific Quality Organization.
A one-stop place for Small and Medium Enterprises and domestic products was the sections D and E at the exhibition area. The 79 stalls in this section turned into a crowd favorite at the Expo. The Sri Lankan Expo was intended to give opportunities for businesses from Sri Lanka to exhibit and showcase different services and investment opportunities in the country. The Board of Investments (BOI) and the Tourism Promotion and Development Authority at the F section at the exhibition area engaged fully with the delegates face-to-face and had discussion and explanation on different investment and business opportunities that offer to establish prosperous businesses. Under Tourism promotion, stalls located at the F section Havicus Group, a high-end real estate developer with Belgium roots offered for sale several exclusive luxury villas for sale at different locations on the island. The exhibition area at the J section had eight stalls allocated to trade chambers, stakeholders and the organizers that network with the top industrial players. Over 32 exhibitors showcased giftware, lifestyle, toys and light engineering at the L and M sections at the Expo. This unique trade fair enhancing the value of the Expo provided a perfect opportunity to City Cycles industries the only locally manufacturer of bicycles displayed a diverse range of cycles at the M section. The Sri Lankan bicycle manufacturer had exported around one million bicycles to Africa alone out of three million bicycles manufactured in the last three years.
The Expo 2012 trade event will ensure a direct opportunity towards international co-operation and business promotion for the Sri Lankan exporters. Strengthened by the success of Expo 2012, the trade fair has enhanced opportunities for all those who are looking for business in Sri Lanka.