Trade links between Greater Birmingham and Sri Lanka received a boost yesterday when Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with counterparts from the South Asian country.

The MoU was signed during a visit and networking lunch organised by the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka, in partnership with the High Commission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The delegation, headed by the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka CEO M. Shiham Marikar, signed a memorandum of understanding with GBCC at an event held at Chamber House, in Edgbaston.

International director Mandy Haque welcomed the delegation while speeches were given by GBCC president Deb Leary, M. Shiham Marikar, and Somasena Mhadiulwewa. Deb Leary stressed the importance of signing the MoU with Sri Lanka, saying: “Signing the MoU is important not just because the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka recognises the Sri Lankan chamber as an ethical trading body, but because Sri Lanka has put themselves as a driver of ethical trading practices on a global scale.”

Minister counsel for the Sri Lanka High Commission Somasena Mahadiulwewa said: “A huge thanks to both the GBCC and the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka for making this day a reality.

“The UK market is the second highest export market of Sri Lanka with over one-billion exports happening. We are sure both the Chambers will reap the rewards of this event and it will further increase bilateral trade and more opportunities to network.”

M. Shiham Marikar said: “Our vision is to make all 750 members of our Chamber qualify for this certificate of ethical trading because we are a country that depends a lot on exports.

“I’m sure visits like these will further strengthen bilateral trade within the two countries and will be a good learning experience.” Mr Marikar also invited the GBCC to bring a delegation to Sri Lanka.

The delegation later visited the Birmingham Wholesale Market and Birmingham Airport. This was the delegation's only visit outside of London and they showcased some of Sri Lanka’s best ethically sourced and manufactured products.

Sri Lanka specialises in agriculture, manufacturing, and services, with the UK being its second highest export destination in 2022. The UK was Sri Lanka’s 21st biggest import destination in the same period.

Sri Lanka’s exports to the UK increased by 2.43 per cent in 2022 and values are increasing year on year. The delegation was in the UK for the full week but made a special visit to Birmingham to meet with GBCC members due to the relationship built with the High Commission commercial team.