Sri Lanka: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Sri Lanka

Businesswear can be either formal or casual, with lightweight suits worn by most businesspeople. English is widely spoken in business circles. Appointments are necessary and it is considered polite to arrive punctually. It is usual to exchange business cards on first introduction. A good first port of call for all business enquiries is the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (www.fccisl.lk).

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1630. Some offices are also open on Saturdays until 1300.

Economy

The Sri Lankan economy has largely recovered from the ravages of the 2004 tsunami and civil war, displaying strong growth rates in recent years. The country is certainly powering ahead of its neighbours, largely thanks to a booming tourism industry and the popularity of Sri Lankan tea and textiles. GDP expanded nearly 8% in the third quarter of 2013 and unemployment has shrunk over the past year to under 4%.

Agriculture (including tea, rubber, coconuts) sustains about one-third of the working population and contributes around a fifth of GDP. Forestry and fishing are also important, while the main industrial sectors are mining (gemstones and graphite particularly) and manufacturing (especially cement and textiles). Hydroelectricity is the main source of power, supplemented by imported oil.

Despite the twin misfortunes of the civil war and tsunami, the tourism industry has bounced back to become one of Sri Lanka’s most important industries. The country attracted more than a million visitors in 2012 and large investments are currently being made to improve tourism infrastructure. The government is also consolidating its progress with market-oriented policies by implementing further deregulation, fiscal reform and privatisation.

GDP

US$59.4 billion (2012).

Main exports

Textiles and clothing, tea and spices, precious stones (including diamonds), coconut products and fish.

Main imports

Textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, food, machinery and transportation equipment.

Main trading partners

India, USA, UK, China (PR) and Singapore.

Keeping in Touch in Sri Lanka

Telephone

Phone cards are available at post offices and shops and public payphones are a common sight throughout the country.

Mobile phone

Mobile usage is much more common than landlines, and it is possible to buy a Sri Lankan sim card which can then be topped up from any local vendors. Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Coverage in the south and west is good; in the north and east it is average.

Internet

There are internet cafés in most towns and resorts. Whilst internet coverage is generally good, the same cannot be said for speeds, with many connections going via slower dial-up services rather than broadband.

Post

Overseas mail usually takes 10 to 14 days.

Post office hours

Mon-Fri, 0830-1700, and Sat, 0830-1300.

Media

The diverse press is divided along linguistic and ethnic lines. Many broadcasters and publications are state-owned. The Daily News is a state-run English-language daily newspaper, whilst the Daily Mirror is a private English-language daily newspaper, as is The Island. Lankadeepa is a private Sinhala daily and Uthayan is a private Tamil-language daily.

There are various state and privately-run television and radio stations available. In terms of television, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) is a state-owned network that operates two channels, Rupavahini and Channel Eye, whilst private English-language stations include MTV and TNL. With regards to radio, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) is a state-owned network that operates services in Sinhala, Tamil and English. Privately owned English radio stations include TNL Rocks, Sun FM and Yes FM.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.