Reforms towards good governance, rule of law and sound economic management goes hand in hand towards increasing foreign direct investments, said Grete Løchen, Ambassador of Norway to Sri Lanka. Speaking at the20th annual General meeting of the National Chamber of Exporters she said that since the election positive steps have being taken in this regard which was encouraging.“Good governance was needed to build investor confidence and lead to more foreign direct investments and increase of exports. What happened in Sri Lanka can be best described as a domestic process of people giving a clear message of good governance.”
“The 100 day program launched by the government is both ambitious in both substance and time span.” “I am also positive that a new chapter of relations could be opened between Norway and Sri Lanka soon that deals sheer values and mutual concerns.”
Commenting on the interest of Norwegian companies to do business overseas, she said that size of a country does matter and Sri Lanka is this regard fits perfectly to the Norwegian requirement. “Norwegian companies are looking at new areas to do business based on market access and India being the neighbour of Sri Lanka makes it an attractive country to invest.”
“I see great potential and synergies for Sri Lankan companies to do business with Norwegians.”
The trade between the two countries too has increased by 26% to US$ 32 million since 2008 with trade balance in favor of Sri Lanka.
“Customers are increasing are aware the ways companies operate, their safety standards, respect for workers and use of child labor are all elements in the manner in which products and services are produced before they buy a product.”
She said that responsibility of companies towards the environment and use of pesticide too is a concern. “Smart business is Green Business”
“NGO and the media put pressure on companies in reveling bad practices that are using unethical ways and means to produce products and services and put pressure on the companies to act. Number of have special interest groups have increased substantially to put pressure even of small companies to change if they are engaged in bad practices.”
In general Sri Lanka has a very good record in this regard in comparison to some of the other Asian countries. One should look at this as a competitive advantage and take further steps to safe guard it.
“CSR globally was earlier recognized as a form of charity. Today CSR is recognized as an integrated part of doing business and Norway companies would definitely look at the CSR profile track records of local companies before entering to any business agreement. CSR is not only a right thing to do but is also pays for.”