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Improving Sri Lanka’s Market Access to the US – Growing beyond the traditional products

The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) is partnering with the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington D.C. (SLEMB/DC) to better inform Sri Lankan exporters regards the evolving trends in the US market and strategies that could help navigate challenges and overcoming bottlenecks.

At a webinar held recently, over 40 Sri Lankan registered exporters, engaged with 10 selected business entrepreneurs identified by SLEMB/DC, following its State level interactions of the recently constituted Overseas Sri Lankans (OSL) Network. The event was also live streamed through social media of the Chamber, making the discussion accessible to a broader base of those interested in exporting to the USA. Moving forward, it was agreed to conduct sector specific dialogues, where the Sri Lankan exporters will be provided with the opportunity to engage in discussion with the business community of the particular sector, in order to foster mutually beneficial trading relationships. Further a separate event is proposed as a dialogue to enhancing long term trade related relationships such as partnerships, Franchise and Investment opportunities between the two countries.

Inaugurating the session, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the USA Ravinatha Aryasinha said, while increasing the value of apparel exports to the US, a concerted effort is presently being made to diversify the export product basket to US. He noted that while the USA has remained the largest single buyer of Sri Lanka’s exports since 1979 and in 2019 had a share of 26.3% of all exports, the products basket to the US had seen very little diversification. Apparel has been the dominant export item accounting for 74.5% of the total value, and did not benefit from GSP facility. The rest which enjoyed GSP, were mainly rubber based products which accounted for 7%, and the other products included tea, iron and steel articles, activated carbon, precious and semi-precious stones and sea food. The Embassy was reaching out to the OSL community in the US and to Americans who are interested in doing business with Sri Lanka and helping them in identifying the products which they could import from Sri Lanka to the US. The increased production of some of these products, could also encourage greater US investment in to Sri Lanka.

In the discussion that followed led by Chairman of the NEC Shiham Marikkar, focused on obstacles faced by importers when importing from Sri Lanka including quality assurance, pricing, promotion and communication and shipping and logistics. The need for adaptation to the largely e-commerce marketing strategies to increase exports. SLEMB/DC Minister (Commercial) Sumedha Ponnamperuma shared insights on the introduction of the US market, import system and current trends.

Management Committee:
President: Mr. Ravi Jayawardena, Vice President: Mr. Jayantha Karunaratne, Vice President: Mr. Indra Kaushal Rajapaksa, Immediate Past President: Mrs. Ramya Weerakoon, Past President: Mr. Ramal Jasinghe, Hony. Secretary: Mr. Dilshan Rajapaksa, Hony. Treasurer: Mr. Rajeev De Silva, Hony. Assistant Secretary: Mrs. Thushari Weerakoon, Hony. Assistant Treasurer: Mr. Lakshan Algama, 1 Representatives from the Council: Mrs. Nilrukshi De Silva & Mr. Farhath Amith

The participating Sri Lankan professionals residing and doing business in USA shared insights regarding the current market conditions and the opportunities available. Mr. Aruna Abeykoon from Las Vegas discussed obstacles faced by importers when importing from Sri Lanka, Mr. Jeevaka Fernando from Laos Angeles shared his experience on aspects related to Quality assurance, pricing, promotion and communication. Mr. Anjana Aluthwatte provided insights on sales and marketing strategies in the USA, Mr. Rick Miller from Virginia explained about the shipping and logistics including the including the potential to increase warehouse facilities to help mainly the SMEs exporting to the US in smaller quantities, Mrs. Udeni Abeykoon from New York focused on the selling of Apparel Products in the US market online and marketing strategies to increase exports, while Mr. Jeevaka Fernando from Los Angeles elaborated on important aspects regarding quality assurance, pricing, promotion and communication. Former Director General/Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka Nimal Karunathilake also shared his experience regarding the regulatory aspects of the USA market.

Some of the key highlights of the discussion were; • US is a highly competitive market due to the size of the market as well as the prominence in the world economy, therefore the businesses often dominate the trading terms. It is important for the exporters to understand this background when negotiating their business, as well as be well prepared to face challenges. The customs system and the import structure is unique and complex. Importers operate separately from the vendors.

• The importers face challenges when importing from Sri Lanka due to issues arising in quality, commitment and seriousness of exporters. Further lack of knowledge on the regulations in US market was also highlighted. Therefore, it is important to keep the commitment to source products as and when required, quality of the product as agreed.

• Discussing regarding GSP scheme, it was informed that the US GSP for Sri Lanka has expired on 31st December 2020 and currently the US Congress is in the process of deciding the next phase of GSP Scheme for all countries. Further discussing the beneficiary products range, it was mentioned that the Sri Lankan Exporters are requested to submit their suggestions to be included in the GSP eligible product list, when it comes for review of the scheme later in 2021.

• Another key feature that was highlighted was the quality. Quality is important, from process to storing stages, therefore the exporters need to be aware of different quality standards they have to comply with as well as the overall offering of the product.

• Pricing plays a key role and it is expected to be consistent. When exporters determine prices, it is important to analyze pricing elements in a broader perspective, including raw material, processing, transportation costs, storage costs, custom tariffs and insurance costs.

• It is important to support the SMEs and help them expand in the market as they could bring in quality products.

• US market due to its complexity and different regulations, finding partners is one of the key strategies to overcome barriers in exporting to US. The partners are often well conversant to cater to the market needs as well as assist the exporters to comply with the regulatory requirements. Further it is seen as an advantage regarding communication with multiple stakeholders given that partners are present in the US Market. Further another aspect to be mindful is the time differences between Sri Lanka and different zones.

• With the current situation there is a surge in usage of online platforms for selling and for marketing. However, it is important to focus on brand building rather than solely focusing on selling.

•Discussing regarding the apparel sector exports to USA, it was highlighted that the shopping patterns of people have drastically changed. More people prefer online shopping to physical stores and USA is a price sensitive market with high competition from competitors such as China and Bangladesh. However, the consumers are concerned regarding purchases from China, and this could be a positive opportunity for the Sri Lankan exporters in the sector. Another noteworthy change that has occurred in this sector is the reduction of stock turn-around time, as the consumers change their preference rapidly, as opposed in the past, further season specific colors and styles are preferred, and therefore the Sri Lankan Exporters should be ready to cater to the demand.

• Focusing on logistics, strategically locating businesses activities are important to ensure delivery on right time in right quantities, hence focusing on the timing and direction. East coast is one the convenient areas to reach the market, given the times and the convenience in reaching from Sri Lanka. The USA cities are connected with a rail road; therefore, it takes 3 to 10 days generally. For exporters who are hoping to expand in e-commerce, 19 to 20 days’ transit time is to be specially considered and for the exporters with smaller shipments, especially LCLs, it is important to select transit locations wisely in order to reap the best benefits of market opportunity.

The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) is the only private sector Chamber which exclusively provides services to Sri Lankan Exporters, who make a vital contribution to the economy of Sri Lanka earning valuable foreign exchange. The Chamber has a membership of over 500 export companies, including some of the biggest Export houses in Sri Lanka, as well as a number of SME exporters. They are responsible for over half of the foreign exchange earnings of the country.

With a view to engage in successful market access promotional activities, the NCE is coordinating with all Sri Lankan Mission and their trade officers to jointly create awareness on the new market needs. Currently plans have been made to conduct a series of webinars, to provide valuable informative insights to the Exporters as well as connect them to relevant stakeholders.

The Chamber would like to invite Sri Lankan exporters to hold hands with the chamber’s initiative to enable expanded market access, whereby the destinations where proud Sri Lankan brands reach are expanded. Interested Sri Lankan exporters are encouraged to contact the chamber via nce@nce.lk to indicate your interest in participating in future event, where the Chamber will register you accordingly.


HE Ravinatha Aryasinha

NCE, SL Embassy in Washington host webinar

The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) is partnering with the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington D.C. (SLEMB/DC) to better inform Sri Lankan exporters regards the evolving trends in the US market and strategies that could help navigate challenges and overcoming bottlenecks.

Inaugurating the session, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the USA Ravinatha Aryasinhasaid, while increasing the value of apparel exports to the US, a concerted effort is presently being made to diversify the export product basket to US. He noted that while the USA has remained the largest single buyer of Sri Lanka’s exports since 1979 and in 2019 had a share of 26.3% of all exports, the products basket to the US had seen very little diversification. Apparel has been the dominant export item accounting for 74.5% of the total value, and did not benefit from GSP facility.

The rest which enjoyed GSP, were mainly rubber based products which accounted for 7%, and the other products included tea, iron and steel articles, activated carbon, precious and semi-precious stones and sea food. The Embassy was reaching out to the OSL community in the US and to Americans who are interested in doing business with Sri Lanka and helping them in identifying the products which they could import from Sri Lanka to the US. The increased production of some of these products could also encourage greater US investment in to Sri Lanka. In the discussion that followed led by Chairman of the NEC Shiham Marikkar, focused on obstacles faced by importers when importing from Sri Lanka including quality assurance, pricing, promotion and communication and shipping and logistics. The need for adaptation to the largely e-commerce marketing strategies to increase exports.

SLEMB/DC Minister (Commercial) Sumedha Ponnamperuma shared insights on the introduction of the US market, import system and current trends.

The participating Sri Lankan professionals residing and doing business in USA shared insights regarding the current market conditions and the opportunities available.

Aruna Abeykoon from Las Vegas discussed obstacles faced by importers when importing from Sri Lanka, Jeevaka Fernando from Los Angeles shared his experience on aspects related to quality assurance, pricing, promotion and communication.

Anjana Aluthwatte provided insights on sales and marketing strategies in the USA, Rick Miller from Virginiaexplained about the shipping and logistics including the including the potential to increase warehouse facilities to help mainly the SMEs exporting to the US in smaller quantities, Udeni Abeykoon from New York focused on the selling of Apparel Products in the US market online and marketing strategies to increase exports. Former Director General/Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka Nimal Karunathilake also shared his experience regarding the regulatory aspects of the USA market. The discussion also focused on the prospects for collaboration between the NCE and the re-activated US-Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce. Dilan Ariyawansa of the US-Sri Lanka Chamber, elaborated on the role they proposed to play in the future in the furtherance of two way trade and investment between the US and Sri Lanka.

The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) is the only private sector Chamber which exclusively provides services to Sri Lankan Exporters, who make a vital contribution to the economy of Sri Lanka earning valuable foreign exchange.

The Chamber would like to invite Sri Lankan exporters to hold hands with the chamber’s initiative to enable expanded market access, whereby the destinations where proud Sri Lankan brands reach are expanded.

Interested Sri Lankan exporters are encouraged to contact the chamber via nce@nce.lk to indicate your interest in participating in future event, where the Chamber will register you accordingly.

For more information go to:dailynewsonline@lakehouse.lk

Video Attached! SLF speaks with H.E Ambassador Ravinatha

Ravinatha Pandukabhaya Aryasinha assumed duties on 1 December 2020. His Letter of Credence as Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States of America was formally accepted by President Donald J. Trump on 23 December 2020.

Having joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service (SLFS) in 1988, Ambassador Aryasinha is presently the senior most officer in the Service. Prior to his current appointment, he was the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka, serving from October 2018 to August 2020, under 3 political administrations.

As Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Aryasinha led the Sri Lanka delegation to the 74th UN General Assembly in September 2019, the first time a Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary has addressed the UNGA during the High-Level segment. He also led Sri Lanka delegations to the Sri Lanka-EU Joint Commission in Brussels in February 2019, the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Minister’s Meeting (CFAMM) in London in July 2019, and to the 19th Council of Ministers Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in Abu Dhabi in November 2019.

From April – October 2018 he served as the Additional Secretary/ Economic Affairs and Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he operationalized a comprehensive Economic Diplomacy Programme(EDP) supported by an independent budget, enabling the Foreign Ministry and Missions to serve as catalysts in economic development, in close collaboration with Government Agencies, Business Chambers and the Private Sector.

From July 2012 – March 2018, he was Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and Consul General of Sri Lanka to Switzerland. During this period he led Sri Lanka delegations to most sessions of the Human Rights Council (HRC), as well as launched several bilateral and multilateral initiatives related to UN agencies in Geneva. These included, conceptualizing the ‘Sri Lanka-World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Cooperation Action Plan’, enabling collaborative research between Sri Lankan scientists and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), evolving a self-funding mechanism as the Chair of the Permanent Representatives of the Colombo Process on Migration, and as Chair of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) initiating a process that enabled the enhancement of the mandate on Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS). As President of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) from January- February 2018, Ambassador Aryasinha secured a consensus among member states on Decision CD/2119 to establish five subsidiary bodies to discuss all items on the CD agenda, which brought the CD back to substantive work after a lapse of 22 years.

While in Geneva, Ambassador Aryasinha was also concurrently accredited as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Holy See and oversaw the State Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Sri Lanka in January 2015, while establishing close relations between Sri Lanka and several key Pontifical Councils in the Vatican.

From April 2008- June 2012, he was Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and to the European Union. During the last phase of the LTTE terrorist conflict in Sri Lanka and the quest to take action against LTTE front organizations, he enabled cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Europol, as well as Eurojust,.

Other positions Ambassador Aryasinha held in Colombo and abroad include – Second Secretary in the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, India (1989-91), on leave from the SLFS as National Information Officer in the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka (1993-1995), and Director/Publicity & Foreign Ministry Spokesman (1995-2000). He served in the Sri Lanka Embassy in the USA (2002-2006), where during the latter period he was the Deputy Chief of Mission with Ambassador Rank. From 2007-2008, he was the Director General in the Public Communications Division and Foreign Ministry Spokesman.

Ambassador Aryasinha has served as a Visiting Lecturer in International Relations, South Asian Politics, Diaspora Politics, Counter-Terrorism and Public Diplomacy at several academic/professional institutions including the University of Colombo and the Sir. John Kotelawala Defense University (KDU) in Sri Lanka. He has co-authored ‘Spoilers or Catalysts: The role of Diaspora in Peace Processes’ with Yossi Shain of Georgetown University, in Edward Newman & Oliver Richmond (Ed) Challenges to Peace Building: Managing Spoilers during conflict resolution (U.N. University Press, 2006), while contributing to academic journals including the UK King’s College Journal of Conflict, Security and Development.

He started his professional life in 1981 as a journalist at the Ceylon Daily News – the then leading Sri Lankan newspaper, and was a pioneer in the setting up of Rupavahini – the National Television Network of Sri Lanka, where he was a Senior Political Correspondent from 1982-1988.

Ambassador Aryasinha received his secondary education at Ananda College, Colombo. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Peradeniya and a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from the University of Colombo. He was a ‘Hurst Fellow’ in International Relations at the School of International Service (SIS), American University, Washington DC in 2001-2002.

A recipient of an ‘American Field Service (AFS) Scholarship’ as a student, he spent the academic year 1978-1979 attending Bennett High School in Buffalo, New York, and earned a US High School Diploma and won colours in athletics. In 1985, he received the ‘Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Sri Lanka’ Award by the Jaycees Junior Chamber International for his contribution to the field of Media.

Ambassador Aryasinha is married and has three children. His other interests include Reading, Music and Tennis.

Click on the link below to watch the video:

https://youtu.be/QZ6jLnxWs1g

Vaccine clusters in the making in Sri Lanka

Following President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s special instructions to vaccinate the public in risk areas, the Ministry of Health commenced its public inoculation campaign yesterday at several state health offices.

President Rajapaksa on Monday instructed officials to vaccinate members of the general public in the Western Province, which is has reported the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases since the virus outbreak last year.

Accordingly frontline health workers as well as personnel in economic centres including vendors of the Peliyagoda fish market and airport service personnel were innoculated over the past two weeks. The public vaccination programme which commenced yesterday, saw the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine administered to citizens above 30 years of age.

For more information go to:http://dailymirror.lk

Video Attached! SLAASC Committee prepares to Present 73rd Independence Day Celebrations!

SLF Interviews SLAASC Committee:

https://youtu.be/LxqK2Gzer40

This is to inform you that the recorded SLAASC 73rd Sri Lanka Independence Day Anniversary Celebration will be live on Facebook and YouTube on Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 7 pm Pacific Time.
Please watch it!
For more information contact:
Shanmuganathan Vaithilingam [Shan]
Secretary
Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California.
Cell: [213] 399 8964
Email: pa2slcg.la@gmail.com
Website: https://www.slaasc.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slaasc

See link below to watch the video:

https://youtu.be/LxqK2Gzer40

Ottawa, Canada Celebrated 73rd Independence Day

Sri Lanka’s 73rd anniversary of independence was celebrated by the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa, Canada on 4th February 2021 at the Official Residence of the High Commissioner.

The Independence Day events commenced with the hoisting of the national flag by Mrs. Sithara Khan, the Acting High Commissioner and the singing of the national anthem of Sri Lanka. Multi-faith religious observances by the venerable members of the Maha Sangha and respected religious dignitaries representing the Hindu, Catholic and Islam faiths were conducted to bestow blessings on Sri Lanka and the people of the country.

  An excerpt from the vision of H.E the President of Sri Lanka outlined in the national policy document “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” was read on the occasion followed by the reading of the Independence Day messages issued by the Hon. Prime Minister and the Hon. Foreign Minister.

The programme concluded with the Vote of Thanks by Mrs. Chandira Weerasinghe, Attaché, followed by traditional Sri Lankan refreshments.

  Due to the prevailing lockdown in Ottawa in view of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the event was attended by the members of staff of the High Commission.

Sri Lanka High Commission
Ottawa
  4 February 2021

SRI LANKA EMBASSY IN BEIJING CELEBRATED THE 73RD ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE

The 73rd Anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka was celebrated at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, with the participation of the Embassy staff, their family members and the Sri Lanka community. The event was held on a limited scale due to the prevailing pandemic related restrictions.

The programme commenced with the hoisting of the National Flag by Ambassador, Dr. Palitha Kohona, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Subsequently, two minutes silence was observed in remembrance of Sri Lanka’s heroes who scarified their lives for the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The traditional oil lamp was lit by the Ambassador, Embassy staff and the Sri Lanka community members. This was followed by religious observances conducted by the Buddhist monks from the Lingguan temple, led by the Most Venerable Shi Chang Zang Thero, Vice President of Buddhist Association of China with five other monks.

The Independence Day messages of the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister were read at the event. Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Dr. Kohona stated that despite difficulties faced by Sri Lanka during the 73 years of independence, the people of Sri Lanka have achieved much. He referred to the challenges endured by the people of Sri Lanka in confronting terrorism over a 30-year period, and natural disasters and stated that despite those challenges, Sri Lanka has been moving towards economic prosperity and sustainable development. The Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has developed a clear vision for the development of the country, the “Vistas of Prosperity”.

In particular, he noted that the Independence gained in 1948, was the result of the enormous struggles of 1818, 1848 and other efforts over the years to regain our freedom by our people. He also highlighted the sacrifice in lives and limbs made by the youth of the country to counter the threat of terrorism and separatism which had caused inestimable damage to the nation.

He further stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the economy drastically. Therefore, he emphasised that it is the responsibility of all Sri Lankans to dedicate themselves to face the current challenges collectively, in order to achieve socio- economic advancement. Specifically, he said that the Embassy had the responsibility to dedicate itself contributing over and above the call of duty, to help the Sri Lankan people realise their socio-economic aspirations.

He further stated that the current challenge of Covid-19 is different from the challenges faced previously. This struggle could be won as we did previously, only, if all Sri Lankans work together. If Sri Lanka could overcome the current challenge of Covid-19, with the progressive economic policy of the government, the country could march towards economic prosperity.

The event was concluded with all the guests being treated to Sri Lankan delicacies.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Beijing, China
05 February 2021

73rd Independence Day celebrations in SL Embassy in Tokyo

The 73rd Independence Day celebrations was organized by the Embassy in Tokyo on virtual in order to accommodate many personnel following COVID guidelines in Japan. Mission facilitated Zoom and Face Book technology to allow all interested Japanese and Sri Lankans to join the celebrations. The highlight of the event was the first-time live interaction between the community and the Mission staff through zoom technology. It was organized by giving an opportunity to the viewers to discuss their issues and give instant solutions by the Ambassador and the Diplomatic staff.

New Ambassador-Designate Mr. Sanjiv Gunasekara emphasized in his message, of his focus on the ‘economic prosperity through mutual understanding’ between Japan and Sri Lanka at the time Sri Lanka celebrates its 73rd independence and completing 69 years of diplomatic relations.

Senior Japanese Government Officials, former Japanese Ambassadors to Sri Lanka, Buddhists monks representing Temples, members of all Sri Lankan Associations in Tokyo, fellow Sri Lankan and Japanese friends attended the celebrations though Zoom and Facebook live programme. Mission also organised special Independence Day supplements at two national level newspapers in Japan; “The Japan Times” and “The Japan News” of Yomiuri Shimbun.

Suppliment at The Japan Times (1)

Sri Lanka Embassy
Tokyo, Japan
05 February 2021

SL Embassy, WASHINGTON DC CELEBRATES 73rd INDEPENDENCE DAY

The 73rd Anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka was celebrated on 4th of February at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C., with the participation of religious dignitaries, representatives from the US State Department and the Embassy Staff, with the Sri Lankan community and friends of Sri Lanka across the US joining virtually in view of the prevailing pandemic related restrictions.

The ceremony commenced with the hoisting of the national flag by Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, amidst the chanting of seth pirith by the Venerable Maha Sangha. The National Anthem of Sri Lanka was sung followed by the observance of two-minutes silence in remembrance of heroes who sacrificed their lives to preserve and protect the freedom, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the motherland. Following the lighting of the traditional oil lamp, the Maha Sangha and members of the clergy belonging to Hindu, Islam and Christian faiths conducted religious observances.

Conducting Buddhist Religious observances, the Most Venarable Katugastota Uparatana Thero, Chief Priest of the Maryland Buddhist Vihara and Chief Sanganayake of North America, observed Pansil, and the Most Venerable Dr. Aggamaha Panditha Walpola Piyananda Nayake thero of the Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara invoked blessing, followed by the chanting of Seth Pirith by all priests who joinined virtually. Swami Ragupathi Kurukkal observed Hindu religious observances and blessed with a recital of Hindu prayers. Rev. Father Dilantha Arachchilage of the Hope Community Church in Arlington conducted Christian prayers and offered blessings. Mr Seyed Rizwan Mowlana, representing the Islam faith, recited verses from the holy Quran and invoked blessings for the country for peace and harmony.

The Independence Day Messages of H.E. the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Hon. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Hon. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena were read out by the staff of the Mission in Sinhala, Tamil and English.

Mr. Dean Thompson, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the US Department of State who attended the ceremony as the Guest of Honor, in remarks, said he appreciated very much the inclusion of religious observances from the Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Christian faiths, as well as the reading of the Independence Day messages in the three languages, which is a reminder that this island nation is made stronger by its diversity. He observed that since Sri Lanka’s independence 73 years ago, Sri Lanka and the United States have been partners in development, drawn together by a shared commitment to protect and promote democracy, human rights, the rule of law and equal justice for all. Noting that the US looks forward to partnering with and supporting the Sri Lankan people as they address challenges, realize the nation’s true potential and draw strength from their diversity, Mr. Thompson said the two countries have many shared values and interests, including fostering economic growth, countering violent extremism, strengthening people to people ties and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region where all countries can prosper.

In his address to mark the occasion, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha extended his appreciation for all who joined the independence celebrations – physically, as well as mainly virtually. The Ambassador who detailed the Sri Lanka government’s priorities at present, and several dimensions of the Sri Lanka – US partnership, recalled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s recent congratulatory message to US President Joe Biden, where he assured that “Sri Lanka, under my leadership, based on the mandate received from my people, is committed to further strengthen and consolidate this multifaceted partnership with the United States, grounded in mutual respect, shared values and common interests”. Referring to the key initiatives undertaken by the new Government to address the Sri Lanka’s economic and national security challenges, to strengthen reconciliation, and to promote and protect human rights through domestic mechanisms, Ambassador Aryasinha urged that all pay heed to the facts, without being misled, and recognize the difficult tasks the government of Sri Lanka has embarked upon in a short time notwithstanding grappling with a pandemic that has crippled most of the world. He urged that all work towards unity and development, so that Sri Lanka will prosper and Sri Lanka – US friendship will grow.

Ambassador Aryasinha who noted that on 31 January the Embassy took an ambitious step in launching the ‘Pan-US Overseas Sri Lankans (OSL) Network’, aimed at supporting OSL activities and to leverage their support towards realizing the interests of Sri Lanka in the US, said the core areas of focus of this Network will be – advocacy of Sri Lanka, economic advancement and socio-cultural engagement. Observing that he was encouraged to see the participation of OSLs from 27 States across the US and their commitment towards this new initiative, he said, the Embassy is in the process of expanding this ‘network’ to cover all States in the US. It will also be developing ‘nodal clusters’ across each State, in order to bring together OSLs to work collectively on the areas of focus identified. This network will also have overarching ‘interest clusters’ – including to engage with OSL entrepreneurs, youth, and academics, as well as to reach out to non-Sri Lankan ‘Friends of Sri Lanka’ throughout the USA. He was hopeful that this network will be a powerful vehicle in serving the interests of the OSLs in the US, keeping them connected with their motherland, and in ensuring that they become ‘catalysts’ in taking the US-Sri Lanka relationship to greater heights. Ambassador Aryasinha urged the support of the State Department, to engage the totality of the US based OSLs, so that they become a strength to both their host country, as well as to their home country.

The ceremony came to a close with the serving of traditional milk rice and Sri Lankan sweetmeats to those present.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington, DC
04 February 2021
http://slembassyusa.org/new/images/He-Speach-inde2021-2.pdf

A Day of Celebration: Sri Lanka National / Independence Day

For Liberty and Freedom: Sri Lanka National / Independence Day

The national flag is hoisted and the national anthem sung, the traditional lamp is lit and the processions begin, complete with meticulously coordinated military parades, firing of canons and various religious and cultural performances, all to paying tribute to the forefathers of the land for their glorious feat. Sri Lanka celebrates the gaining of her independence from Colonial rule with magnificent pomp and pageantry and the spirit of patriotism resonating in every street corner.

A Day of Celebration: Sri Lanka National / Independence Day

The Independence Day in Sri Lanka is celebrated annually on the 4th February. Sri Lanka gained Independence from the British on February 4, 1948. The day is a national holiday in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated all over the country with flag-hoisting ceremonies, dances, parades and cultural performances. The main celebrations take place in Colombo. Here the President raises the national flag and delivers a speech at a nationally televised event.

Many struggles were made in the history of Sri Lanka for the cause of freedom. And on the Independence Day all of those who fought for this are remembered and celebrated. But the independence movement against the British is especially recalled.

In the President’s speech, he highlights the achievements of the government during the past year, raises important issues and requests the people to join together in commemorating this historic day. The President also pays tribute to the national heroes of Sri Lanka, observing two minutes of silence in their memory.

A great military parade is also performed. In recent years it showcased the power of the army, navy, air force, police and the civil defense force. And the commitment, bravery, national unity and determination to achieve peace is recollected in the minds of the Sri Lankan people.

The History of Peace: Sri Lanka National / Independence Day

D.S. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka after we got the independence from the British in 1948. He emerged as the leader of the Sri Lankan independence movement that lead to the establishment of self-rule in Sri Lanka. The legal head of State was Queen Elizabeth’s governor at that time.

The first President of Sri Lanka was William Gopallawa in 1972. This replaced the Governor’s role. Until 1972, Ceylon was a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state and Queen of Ceylon. Highlights