Sri Lanka must seize the moment when the Indian Ocean becomes the growth region of the world, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said last evening.
“I believe in branding, and we always say, the UNP is the best brand for Sri Lanka,”the Prime Minister said.
He was speaking at an awards ceremony for Sri Lankan brands sponsored by the international Interbrand rating group at the Hilton Colombo.
“We missed the opportunities that many of our Asian partners did in capitalizing on all those moments,” the Prime Minister said.
“For a country that was on par with Japan at the very beginning, we seem to have missed the bus on every occasion,”the Prime Minister said.
He said that now, business leaders must compete, building strong brands locally and internationally to not only catch up, but “leap-frog” into the developed world.
“Yes, (the Industrial Revolution) left Asia behind,” the Prime Minister said. “But without our wealth there would not have been an industrial revolution in Europe.”
“The Indian Ocean has just started its growth scenario,” he said. “It will go on: look at South Asia, from Pakistan all the way to Bangladesh, and beyond to Southeast Asia and Indonesia… all these are countries that are growing.”
“And here we are situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe added.
Premier Wickremesinghe said that to angle itself as a global hub, the country must strengthen and add new Free Trade Agreements with countries like Japan,Singapore, and China. Pointing to the brand awards, which honoured state and private banks, telecommunications companies, and tea companies, among others, he said the recognition should only be a starting point.
“I am happy the three State banks have achived first,second and third places respectively (in the awards), but that does not mean you can avoid the restructuring,” the Prime Minister said.