Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed will be in Sri Lanka in June in only his second visit, to attend a business event in Colombo.
Malaysian High Commissioner Rosli Ismail told reporters on Wednesday that Dr Mohamed will be the chief guest at the 6th Annual Business Awards of the Sri Lanka Malaysia Business Council to be held in Colombo on June 9.
Dr Mohamed was the keynote speaker at the May 2005 CIMA Global Leaders Summit in Colombo.
Mr Ismail said Malaysia is exploring the possibility of enhancing cooperation in tourism, education and technical fields in Sri Lanka in the post-conflict era with the increase interest expressed by Malaysian companies in investment opportunities in the Northeast.
He said regardless of the 3-decades long conflict that concluded last year, Malaysians were keen investors in the telecommunications, manufacturing, infrastructure, property development and garment sectors in the island. Sri Lanka’s exports to Malaysia have been increased to Rs.5.5 billion in 2009, an increase of around 11.26% from Rs. 4.9 billion in 2008. Imports from Colombo decreased by 22.85% to Rs.30 billion in 2009 from Rs.38.8 billion the previous year.
He said that Sri Lanka has stopped purchasing gas and oil from Malaysia after Colombo’s decision to buy oil from Iran under a special credit line in 2008. "Looking at the structure of trade and investment between Malaysia and Sri Lanka, it seems obvious that the full potential of both countries is yet to be explored by the business communities of both sides,” he said. “The defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka last year will bring better opportunities for trade and investment promotion from Sri Lanka to Malaysia and vice versa," he added.
President of the Sri Lanka – Malaysia Business Council Kevin De Silva said that the Council which functions under the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to reward winners in the 11 categories of exporters of gems and jewellery exporters of household and consumable products, exporters of industrial products, hospitality and hospitality related travel, information technology, financial and related services, professional and consultancy services, importer/ distributor/retailer of raw materials and importer/ distributor/retailer of finished products and semi finished products, transport and logistics and infrastructure projects and services.
This year, the Council has decided to take into consideration corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, research and development and overall business development with regard to the awards, he added.