Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
September 2004
Environmental Export Opportunities in Sri Lanka

Wisconsin environmental and energy-related firms seeking new sales opportunities should consider Sri Lanka. Stanley Pfrang, an International Consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, just returned from a fact-finding trip to the island nation that lies off the southern tip of India. Stanley was part of a team funded by the U.S. Asia Environmental Partnership (US AEP), which is part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID), to establish partnerships and business relationships between Sri Lanka and the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Sri Lanka has a heritage of strong devotion to the natural environment. Because of a long running civil war, the country has lacked the resources to adequately deal with environmental problems stemming from a growing and increasingly industrial population. Donor nations have pledged $4.5 billion in development aid tied to the conversion of the two year cease fire into a permanent peace accord. The country is also planning applications for the Millenium Challenge Account sponsored by the United States.

The Wisconsin/Minnesota team focused on water resource issues, specifically, the Kelani River Basin and Kandy Lake. The Kelani River originates in the central highlands and empties into the Indian Ocean near the capital city of Colombo. The river is the main source of drinking water for Colombo, a city of 600,000, and the country's industrial heartland. Much of the steep-sloped upper portions of the watershed are devoted to tea plantations. The lower reaches from greater Colombo to the sea suffer from various industrial pollutants. Kandy Lake is in an adjacent watershed and is at the center of a major tourist and religious pilgrimage site. Both the Kelani River and Kandy Lake suffer from discharges of raw sewage and agricultural runoff. The country does not have a single municipal sewage treatment plant.

US AID is working with a number of Sri Lankan government and non-government agencies to address these issues and will be able to fund some pilot projects.

While Sri Lanka is a smaller market than its neighbor, India, Sri Lanka has some advantages for Wisconsin exporters over India. Sri Lanka and India have entered into a Free Trade Agreement so that goods with at least 25% Sri Lankan content can enter India duty free. The port of Colombo is being expanded and will be part of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) of the U.S. Government. Because of the increased ease of shipping to the United States, the port of Colombo is becoming a major trade hub for the Indian Ocean Basin.

US AID is planning to host a delegation of approximately 10 Wisconsin and Minnesota equipment and engineering services suppliers in Sri Lanka in February 2005. Companies selected to join the mission will receive full funding of their travel costs but are expected to contribute time and other in-kind expenses.

There are also plans to hold several teleconferences on Sri Lankan environmental issues over the course of the next year. Firms that can supply engineering services or prevention, testing, or remediation equipment can contact Mr. Pfrang (ph: 608/267-0639, spfrang@commerce.state.wi.us) to learn more about the market in Sri Lanka and how they may be able to participate in future projects.

-- Stanley Pfrang

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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