The ‘Colombo Forum’ was signed on 20 September between the New Zealand India Trade Alliance (NZITA) and the New Zealand Sri Lanka Business Council (NZSLBC). The agreement is aimed at increasing trade between the two countries and New Zealand.
Chairman of the NZITA, Mr Giri Gupta says both member organisations are comprised of private sector innovators, entrepreneurs, professionals, and managers: “It makes sense that we work together to expand trade opportunities with the region”.
“There are huge growth opportunities in the region, but it is extremely hard to build the right relationships without assistance and market knowledge”.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Chair of New Zealand Sri Lanka Business Council Dr. Lal Senaratne said, “The Colombo Forum will allow both organisations to provide a regular and recognised platform for promotion, innovation, entrepreneurship, and start-ups between India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand”.
“The relationship will promote cooperation and shared information with regard to trade, market development, and services for members of each group. It will make it much easier for New Zealand based companies to expand into the Indian and Sri Lankan markets”, Dr. Lal said.
The agreement covers areas of trade, commerce and industry with a systematic approach to business promotional activity, and participation in exhibitions and trade fairs to be held in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India. The agreement will make it much easier, for example, for trade delegations to visit both India and Sri Lanka in one trip, and provide a range of business contacts in both countries.
Congratulating the New Zealand Sri Lanka Business Council and the New Zealand India Trade Alliance on signing this agreement, the New Zealand High Commissioner to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ambassador to Nepal Her Excellency Joanna Kempkers said, “I was delighted to hear of the plans for closer cooperation between the two business organisations. While the markets of Sri Lanka and India are distinct, there are commonalities that mean this collaboration makes perfect sense. Geography is most obvious in this regard. Many products shipped to India actually transit Colombo port before going on to Mumbai. Sometimes the distributors of a product that New Zealand companies are trying to export will have a licence for the whole South Asian region. And Sri Lanka, with its smaller market of 21m people, can provide a more comfortable testing ground for New Zealand companies looking to springboard in to India. I am confident that the closer links between the two organisations will create synergies for New Zealand business”.
The NZSLBC promotes economic and cultural relations between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. The council consists of business leaders from New Zealand who have both professional and personal experience of business in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.