The European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka conducted a Round Table Discussion on 1st December at the VIP Lounge, Galadari Hotel with Mr. Leif I Ohlson, the Secretary General of the Sweden – Sri Lanka Business Council. The event was well attended by corporates from a wide range of industries such as ICT, Plantation, Agriculture, Exports, Transport and Logistics, Travel & Tourism and Gem & Jewellery.
This event was organized to create a platform for organisations to hear directly from Mr. Ohlson about the present market situation in Sweden, the trade potential, market & buyer trends and the possibilities for trade partnerships between Sri Lanka & Sweden. Mr. Ohlson also gave insights on Sweden’s potential as a gateway to the Nordics and Europe.
Sweden – Sri Lanka diplomatic relations go back to 1950s and Sweden has been an active partner in Sri Lanka’s economic development process since the early days. One of the biggest and known investments in Sri Lanka by Sweden is the Kotmale Dam built by Skanska with Swedish aid.
The Swedish International Development Agency has continued to provide assistance in large infrastructure projects and development of human capital in Sri Lanka. Trade volumes and values between Sweden & Sri Lanka too has increased over the years with Sri Lanka’s exports to Sweden in 2021 being a total of USD115.9M. The main exports from Sri Lanka to Sweden have been apparel, tea, rubber gloves, tyres, electronics and machinery whereas the main imports from Sweden have been paper, rubber compounds and medicaments.
The discussion therefore facilitated an informed and insightful dialogue on Swedish market overview, Open Trade Gate, consumer insights, factors to consider when entering the Sweden market and the strategic location of Sri Lanka as a hub to facilitate trade to rest of Asia and the Middle East. Mr Ohlson highlighted on the need to promote trade between the two countries, establishing long standing partnerships. He stated that there is 91% increase in export performance from Sri Lanka to Sweden during 2021 and 2022, which gives an optimistic view on trade between Sweden and Sri Lanka. He also highlighted that, the main drive behind Sweden’s growth is its exports and there is a high demand especially for organic food at present, therefore, it is a lucrative industry to enter into Sweden market.
However, Mr Ohlson stressed that Sri Lanka should focus on improving its packaging if they are planning to enter the Sweden market since quality in packaging has a high recognition in Sweden. In concluding remarks he stated that it takes time and investment to get into business partnerships in Sweden and Sri Lankan exporters should have patience, determination especially and no expect instant business.
The event also included a Q&A session with the audience where almost all the attendees were able to put forward their queries for discussion.
The event provided pre and post-event networking opportunities for attendees to meet & discuss queries with Mr. Ohlson in person. This also gave an excellent opportunity for companies to meet senior representatives from a wide range of businesses in Sri Lanka, which supported new connections and opportunities to grow their businesses. The guests enjoyed refreshments and good company.
ECCSL team continues to organise these events and forums, especially for its members with the underlined motive of facilitating trade and business connections between Sri Lanka and Europe.