The Commonwealth Business Council, London, launched the Commonwealth Business Forum, Perth 2011, in Sri Lanka, focusing on the theme “Partnering for Global Growth: The Commonwealth, Indian Ocean and the Pacific Rim”.
Dr. Chris Nonis, Advisor, Commonwealth Business Council, spoke about the value of this forum, in particular to help Sri Lanka prepare the ground to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2013, which will see the bringing together of Heads of State from 53 Commonwealth Countries to Sri Lanka, in addition to the Commonwealth Games bid for 2018. He also said the forum would be an opportunity to showcase the conducive macroeconomic environment that has developed in Sri Lanka in the post-conflict era, and serve to encourage trade and investment flows into the country.
Arif Zaman, Advisor, South Asia and Governance, Commonwealth Business Council, outlined the Commonwealth Business Forum programme for Perth 2011, its value in facilitating intra-Commonwealth trade, and he also reiterated that the Commonwealth is the largest grouping of Countries after the United Nations, and some of the fastest growing economies in the world are part of this association, including two G8 and five G20 members (Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, UK). Her Excellency Kathy Klugman, Australian High Commissioner spoke about the importance of trade between Sri Lanka and Australia and the commonalities of the Commonwealth of Nations, and the importance of Commonwealth bonds. Mr. Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank articulated the successes of Sri Lanka in achieving economic stability, and Sri Lanka’s preparation for the Commonwealth Games 2018 bid, and the development of Hambantota’s infrastructure.
Hon. Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs and Chief Guest , in his keynote address , explained to his audience the challenges Sri Lanka had faced, and the structured approach taken to resolve these issues. He highlighted the substantial progress in reconciliation and reintegration, in particular in the North and East , and the key role played by banks and the private sector in provision of capital for agricultural activity, manufacturing, trade, economic upliftment and employment generation. Professor Pieris went on to reiterate the value of pan-Commonwealth trade and investment, especially as a means to stimulate rural development, and that it was opportune that Sri Lanka was hosting CHOGM in 2013 , and bidding to host the Commonwealth Games in Hambantota in 2018, and that utilising international fora such as these to stimulate regional development would leave a legacy for future generations .