US companies are looking at new investments in Sri Lanka after the end of the war, US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Patricia A. Butenis said.
The Ambassador in an interview with the Sunday Times last week said US firms were interested in construction projects, agriculture, and information technology among others. “There is great potential for additional U.S. investments and U.S. imports”, she added.
“We also hope to increase US exports to Sri Lanka. Unlike some Asian countries, the United States has a large trade deficit with Sri Lanka. For example, in 2008 Sri Lanka exported $1.9 billion in goods and services to the United States, but the U.S. only exported $227 million of goods and services to Sri Lanka”, she said.
“We remain Sri Lanka’s single most important trading partner, as the U.S. received 23% of Sri Lankan exports, and 40% of Sri Lanka’s garment exports. The US Government has worked with Sri Lanka to increase the trade links between the two countries”, she added.
The Ambassador said in October, the United States and Sri Lanka held the seventh annual Trade Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks, where senior trade officials met to resolve trade issues.
“The 2009 TIFA talks were here in Colombo, and the two countries brought a trade mission of over 40 US firms to Sri Lanka to investigate business opportunities. We also went to Trincomalee to encourage investment in the Eastern part of Sri Lanka”, she said.
Commenting on the garment sector, she said Sri Lanka has developed a world class apparel industry and is a major producer for elite American brands such as Victoria’s Secret. “It is true that Sri Lankan exports to the United States have fallen, but our apparel imports have generally dropped because of the recession. The United States does not have a specific plan to help Sri Lankan exporters, but we will treat Sri Lanka equally with other Asian apparel exporters”, she added.
“The US Agency for International Development has provided assistance to train 600 workers in the Brandix factory in Batticaloa District.
I visited this very impressive factory, where Brandix has made a point of hiring employees from all ethnic communities. USAID provided a stipend of $100,000 to help train 600 workers,” she added.