Launch of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2016, the flagship event of the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC) was held yesterday (5th May) at Cinnamon Grand in Colombo.

The announcement on the WEDF, which is to be held on 12th and 13th October was made by the Sri Lankan Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickreme, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha Gonzales, and the Chairperson and Chief Executive of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) Indira Malwatte.

The theme of the WEDF 2016 is “Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change”.

WEDF will bring together more than 600 policymakers, business leaders, and officials from trade and investment support institutions (TISIs) and international organizations to discuss how to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth through trade. A serious of business-to-business match-making events will also be held over the two-day meeting.

Minister Samarawickreme addressing the event said, “countries such as Sri Lanka are dependent on the export of goods and services in their endeavor to create vibrant economies. We are now faced with a new challenge to go beyond the middle income status, he said and added the new government of Sri Lanka has brought in freedom, democracy, transparency and most importantly confidence in us on the part of the international business community. The decision by the ITC to hold the WEDF 2016 in Sri Lanka, symbolizing the international recognition for the business environment that we have created, is a clear message that we are on the right path.”

Ms. Gonzalez expressing her point of view said, "with its central position in South Asia, at the crossroad of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has risen steadily to become a regional business hub."

"Convening the global trade and development community and business representatives in Colombo will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the best of Sri Lanka and allow us to talk business and do business, "she said.

Several MOUs between ITC Geneva and Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade were also signed during the event and two websites for the forum were also launched.

Minister Rishard Bathiudeen, State Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry Mrs. Chandani Wijayawardane, and the Chairperson of the EDB Indira Malwatte were also present.