he beautiful island of Sri Lanka, also known as the “Emerald Isle? has a scenic coastline and boasts some of the best beaches in the world. It has a population of 18 million, the majority being Buddhists (60 per cent) and the balance Christians, Hindus and Muslims. The economy mainly depends on tourism, and the export of tea and garments.
The island has tremendous potential and, had it not been for the ethnic struggle with the LTTE which has plagued this nation for the past 20 years, Sri Lanka would have been the most developed country in the region. It was only in 2002 that a Peace Treaty was signed with the LTTE. The country held elections on 2 April, 2004 and the new party was sworn in on 8 April. Mahinda Rajapksha is the new Prime Minister. Though it is a Coalition Government, all the parties forming the Government have expressed their desire to continue peace talks with the LTTE. This will ensure rapid economic progress in the country.
On the business front, although Sri Lanka is a small market, it is a highly developed one, exposed to major international brands. Most of the products available here are from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Britain and Europe. Duties are reasonable as there is no manufacturing here and almost everything is imported. In 2000 the Government of India signed a Free Trade Agreement between India and Sri Lanka, wherein imports from India and exports from Sri Lanka would attract preferential duties and avoid double taxation. This agreement ends in 2004. However, a broader agreement,called the Economic Cooperation Policy, will come into effect this year. This Policy not only covers products but services as well, and includes many areas that were not covered by the FTA.
With the country on the road to progress, and Colombo being a major international port, Godrej decided to open an office here with the objective of leveraging the ECP. Dealers have been identified and appointed for all our product lines, and we have associated ourselves with the best companies in Sri Lanka. After a slowdown over the last few months, the Company’s business activities have started picking up. Godrej, Sri Lanka received its first racking order from the garment segment. It also has another first in the security segment by bagging an order for Fire Doors (20 numbers).
With the launch of Godrej Security Products, Locks, Refrigerators and Washing Machines, Godrej is being perceived as a high-quality product supplier in Sri Lanka.
In the course of the next year, the Company plans to establish itself as a recognised brand in Sri Lanka.