Assistant Secretary of Commerce Arun M. Kumar’s Introductory Remarks for TIFA Intersessional

Thank you to the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Honorable Malik Samarawickrema.

I would also like to thank my colleagues from the U.S. government here today. Ambassador Keshap – thank you for hosting us.  Mike [Delaney] – as always, it is great to work with you.

I’m excited to be here representing the U.S. Department of Commerce.   The Commerce Department has already been quite active in Sri Lanka, and I can feel their enthusiasm for expanding our commercial ties.  Many of you are familiar with the Commercial Law Development Program, and we’re joined by Joe Yang and Megan McMillan.

Their work is focusing on trade capacity building, government procurement, alternative dispute resolution, and intellectual property protection.  Strong commercial law, especially in these areas, is incredibly important for the ease of doing businesses, so this collaboration could lead to increased FDI and smoother operations for local companies.

Our colleague, Shilpi Jha is here to represent the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO.  USPTO is a fellow Bureau within the Department of Commerce, and they are known as one of the most effective and efficient Bureaus across the entire United States government.  I understand that they just concluded three programs last week providing an overview of IPR, its implications, enforcement and best practices, and they have more activities planned.

The Commerce Department’s Special American Business Internship Training Program – or SABIT – has also been active.  In June 2016, they provided training to 21 Sri Lankan tourism experts in some of our hottest cities for tourism – DC; Pensacola, Florida; New Orleans; and New York City.

And finally, I would like to say a few works about the U.S. Commercial Service, and our activities.  My colleague, John Fleming, is here today, and I hope you all are able to connect with him. He manages our Commercial Service activities for Sri Lanka, and works closely with William Humnicky.

Over 15 years, our post in Chennai has been actively building U.S.-Sri Lankan Commercial links: introducing U.S firms to the Sri Lankan market; arranging reverse trade mission to the United States, and partnering with the U.S. Embassy and AmCham to deliver trade promotion events.  And the good news is: that activity has been picking up.

In June 2015, the Commercial Service led a U.S. business delegation with nine companies to Colombo.  In October last year, our SelectUSA Executive Director Vinai Thummalapally visited to meet with Sri Lankan companies.  In March 2016, our Commercial Service team organized a “Bay of Bengal Business Forum” in Port Blair to showcase to U.S. firms opportunities to do business in Sri Lanka and the region.  We were thrilled that AmCham Sir Lanka joined the program as well.

Looking forward, we have a few things coming up.  This December, we plan to bring a U.S. Franchise trade mission to Colombo.   In Spring 2017, we are planning a reverse trade mission delegation from Sri Lanka to South India to meet with U.S. firms operating there.

There is so much opportunity to expand our business ties, and I look forward to your ideas and partnership as we work together to push that forward.