November 15, 2018
Hilton Hotel, Colombo
Thank you, and good evening. I’m really pleased that this can be one of my first public events in Colombo. It’s an opportunity to celebrate something I enjoy very much, which of course is food, and a double pleasure to be able to do it to showcase American cuisine and products.
I’m really glad that the Hilton Hotel could join us as well as the other sponsors. I had a chance to meet you all briefly, and of course you’re experiencing a selection of what American farmers and food producers have to offer.
We’re looking not just to give you a taste, but also hopefully to tantalize you to want more of the items that you will be tasting tonight.
American farmers and food companies strive to send the highest quality products to Sri Lanka and the world, and I want to encourage Sri Lankan grocers and hoteliers and restauranteurs to sample this selection and be thinking about buying it tomorrow. American products are here for you and your customers and I think you will find that they will serve you well. I know certainly you will be happy after eating them.
And while the United States I think is known generally for our high-tech software products, advanced manufacturing of airplanes, electric cars, we were actually founded as an agricultural country. Agriculture-related industries continue to play a very significant role in the American economy.
In 2016, American farms and food manufacturers employed over four million workers in the United States and grew or produced over $135 billion worth of food, feed and beverage exports to the world. Because of this, Americans and the world enjoy a food supply that is abundant, affordable, and among the world’s safest, thanks in large part to the efficiency and productivity of America’s farms and manufacturers. So I’m very proud to note that we are the world’s top exporter of food and agricultural products and want to ensure that our food export relationship is strong with Sri Lanka.
Agricultural products here accounted for $134 million out of the total of $336 million in exports from the United States to Sri Lanka in 2017. We’d like to see that number rise. Whether it’s fresh fruits, cheese, or other dairy products, or soybean or other grains that feed Sri Lanka’s agricultural industry, the average Sri Lankan has more options than ever to try American agriculture and food products.
The U.S. is still Sri Lanka’s single largest export market and both Sri Lankan farmers and U.S. consumers benefit from our two-way trade. In 2017, Sri Lanka exported $195 million dollars’ worth of agricultural products to the U.S., enabling U.S. consumers to enjoy Sri Lanka’s world-renowned teas, spices, nuts, and tropical oils. That’s what I call a win/win relationship.
So without further ado, I don’t want to keep you from the chef and from enjoying the cuisine, but I encourage you to think about the opportunities here tonight and spend some time getting to know our sponsors and the products that they can supply.
Thank you very much.