20 March (Edadera) – The African continent was given a lot of importance in the Presidential Proclamation on the 75th anniversary of independence where President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with envoys from the African region. The meeting was organized by the Ministry of External Affairs on 3 February 2023 at the President’s Secretariat.
To coincide with this momentous occasion, Mr. Ranjeev Gunawardene, President of International Consultants, is sponsoring a major export-oriented webinar conference in association with the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and the Sri Lanka High Commission in Pretoria.
Webinar Conference Title “Gateway to Africa” There will be a series of events and the inaugural session will be on “Doing Business in Mozambique” starting on 28 March 2023 at 1.30 pm Colombo time. Inaugural webinar conference to focus on key sectors in Sri Lanka including power and energy, civil construction, engineering services and telecommunications sectors.
At the pre-launch event on 10 March, Mr. Ranjiv Gunawardene said that Sri Lanka has a competitive edge over its rivals from the Western Hemisphere. Due to the cost of labor being very low as compared to its counterparts. The quality of work is of international standard or even better than their competitors.
African countries have signed the African Union Free Trade Agreement. African Free Trade Agreement consisting of three protocols which deal with trade in goods, trade in services; Rules and procedures on settlement of disputes. The deal creates a continent-wide market encompassing 54 countries with 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion. In the times to come, that will create a single market similar to the internal market of the European Union where goods and services can be imported and exported without any fees and charges.
There will be no tariffs and duties on goods and services manufactured under the African Union Free Trade Agreement. When goods are moved from one African country to another, for example, if goods are transported from Cairo, Egypt to Johannesburg, South Africa, be it by air, sea or land, there is no customs duty does not have to be paid. This is a good opportunity for some Sri Lankan companies to take full advantage of the export of goods and services.
Another important factor is that most African countries are considered least developed economies under the United Nations description; Thus being eligible for trade preferences, development financing, official development assistance, debt relief, technical assistance and other forms of support. Which means they have duty free access to the European and American market, indicating that Sri Lankan companies can also manufacture goods in the African continent, creating three accessible markets. African Free Trade Agreement Area Could Be a Tremendous Opportunity
With the severe, current economic crisis in Sri Lanka, most companies and corporations will not have access to liquidity of capital, but this is not the case in the African context. Why, because there is money available for all kinds of projects, be it from the European Union which has pledged 150 billion euros ($170 billion) to invest in Africa as it seeks to gain influence on the continent and its favorite wants to be a partner. The US has pledged $55 billion in economic, health and security assistance to Africa over the next three years.
International consultants can access this type of funding for projects in the African continent. As we have been extensively liaising and working relationships with financial providers for many years on various projects.
The event will provide a great opportunity for Sri Lankan companies and corporations to explore the alternative African market. This is one way Sri Lanka can pull itself out of the current economic crisis that has engulfed the island.
The Sri Lankan High Commission in South Africa, in conjunction with the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, is to be commended for being the technology partner in hosting the event.