Sri Lanka banks on sunrise ICT industry while Ceylon tea thrives
Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Philippines Shobini Gunasekera
Sri Lanka, the “Island of Ingenuity,” is set to remain resilient as it rides the wave of success on its key exports—tea and ICT (Information and Communications Technology)—amid domestic and global challenges.
Beyond the headline-making recent upheaval and turmoil in Sri Lanka, it’s business as usual. Even when the nation is, like most countries, also still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, the South Asia island country perseveres and as shared by Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Philippines Shobini Gunasekera, its business sector and numerous industries are very much operational.
“Banks are open, government services are available. The export industry remains vibrant,” Ambassador Gunasekera pointed out.
The resilience of the Sri Lankan nation has been very visible throughout the ordeal. After all, the country has faced worst challenges in the past particularly with a three-decade insurgency, natural calamities, and incidents of terrorism which it has successfully overcome.
With the installation of the new president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, a veteran career politician, and with the ongoing negotiations with multilateral lenders such as the IMF, etc., as well with bilateral partners, a general sense of hope and optimism among its people are now visible.
At the helm of the drive towards economic recovery is the ICT industry, Sri Lanka’s 4th largest export earner.
The International Trade Administration of the United States has described the industry as a “best prospect industry sector” for Sri Lanka with “telecommunications, computer, and information services are key growth components.” Within this context, Sri Lanka is also always ranked among the top 50 outsourcing destinations by AT Kearney, and Colombo and ranked among “Top 20 Emerging Cities” by Global Services Magazine.
Sri Lanka lives up to being an “Island of Ingenuity” as it is renowned in developing creative solutions to business problems in all forms of industries around the world. The popularization of emerging technology such as AI, Internet of Things, blockchain, cyber security, intelligent automation, e-commerce has created a demand for its niche ICT solutions and services.
The country has a highly-developed ICT sector with 500+ companies generating $1.5B export revenue in 2020 and is forecasted to prosper into a $5B dollar industry in 2025. The country is also proud of having a robust, competent, and niche talent pool as well as some of the best and most advanced technology infrastructure in the region which has been fueling global industries for over 30+ years.
In the Philippines, reputed Sri Lankan ICT enterprises such as the FBC Asia Pacific, hSenid Group, Tech One Global, Bileeta, among others, have already established their presence and are now working with the public and private sector to introduce their innovative IT solutions in the software development, finance, e-commerce, BPM, and other sectors.
Ambassador Gunasekera is happy to see that Sri Lankan ICT companies are making waves in the Philippines, noting that even during the pandemic, the IT and services sector in Sri Lanka recorded a 20 percent growth.
“We are very pleased that IT companies are coming here to the Philippines to introduce their innovative solutions and services. It allows Sri Lanka and the Philippines to explore synergies where our industries can work together on a complementary basis,” the good ambassador remarked.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s export industry, with high-quality products such as tea, spices, agricultural products, processed food, apparels, rubber products, precious stones, gems, etc., has been has been achieving record highs with around $1 billion worth of exports for each month of this year.
Sri Lanka’s tea exports, popularly known as “Ceylon Tea”, is regarded as the gold standard for tea in the world due to its unique taste, superb quality, and invigorating health benefits. Speaking about its remarkable resilience, she stated that the industry’s supply and value chain has been proactively supported to ensure a steady supply of products for exports.
Notably, Ceylon tea products are expanding their market in the Philippines with renowned brands such as Dilmah, Basilur, George Steuarts, Jones, Zesta, among others, are now available in top hotels, resorts, restaurants, and leading supermarkets.
In the milk tea industry, Ceylon tea is also gaining traction. The Island Tea Co., a Sri Lankan-owned milk tea franchise launched by businessman Minodh De Sylva, has been expanding its retail network in the Philippines. Recently, he also launched “Ceylon Coffee Club” to introduce the best of high-quality Ceylon Coffee to the Philippine market.
Ambassador Gunasekera is optimistic that the brand image that Sri Lanka has created for many of the best in the world would be the stepping stone to navigate through the current challenges.