Press releases

WEDF Sri Lanka drives business connections

13 October 2016
ITC News

(Colombo/Geneva) – Thousands of business connections were made by companies participating in business-to-business (B2B) meetings during the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 12-13 October. WEDF was co-organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB).

Representatives from around 200 companies from across the world took part in close to 1,000 B2B meetings at WEDF. More than just making new business connections, the B2B meetings also helped strengthen the knowledge of participants on what they need to do to better compete and participate in global trade.

B2B meetings were held in a range of sectors, including information and communications technologies (ICTs); tourism; specialty food (including tea and spices); processed food; apparel; rubber; and manufacturing.

In addition to the B2B meetings, WEDF hosted a series of practical, policy related discussions to help businesses navigate regional and global trade, and build their competitiveness. More than 600 participants from more than 20 countries discussed issues ranging from the impact of mega-regional trading blocs to the importance of addressing trade facilitation and other regulatory barriers.

The need for companies to build the capacity to meet standards, both mandatory and voluntary ones, was top of the agenda on the second day of WEDF, where ITC’s 2016 SME Competitiveness Outlook was presented. The audience was also given a glimpse into the ITC Sustainability Network portal, which will be officially launched in early 2017.

The role of women in business and youth entrepreneurship underlined much of the debate and in addition to sessions on youth, ITC Executive Director Arancha González and EDB Chairperson and Chief Executive Mrs. Indira Malwatte launched SheTrades Sri Lanka at the Colombo Stock Exchange, which included a Ring the Bell ceremony to raise awareness on women’s economic empowerment.

Ms. González and Mrs. Malwatte were joined at the Colombo Stock Exchange by State Minister for Trade Mr. Sujeewa Senasinghe, the Chairperson of Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce – Sri Lanka, Mrs. Rifa Mustafa, and Mr. Vajira Kulathilake, Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange.

Closing this year’s WEDF, Ms. Malwatte said: ‘The last two days have been an intense exchange of ideas and views of how SMEs can connect and compete on the global stage. In plenary sessions and in B2B meetings, WEDF has provided an opportunity for Sri Lankan enterprises to demonstrate that they have the quality and skills needed take part in global trade. This is especially true for Sri Lankan products in niche sectors, including lingerie, spa products, and specialized technical products such as sensors.’

Thanking this year’s WEDF participants, Ms. González said: ‘I believe you will come away today with greater insight about how to successfully navigate the 21st century challenges to trade and seize opportunities that are there for the taking.’

‘How to better support women and youth to become valuable economic actors and how to contribute to growth and job creation in Sri Lanka and around the world are just some of the main takeaways of this edition of WEDF,’ she said. ‘As host of this year’s WEDF, Sri Lanka has confirmed again that it is a land of opportunity and a natural hub for trade and entrepreneurs at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean.’

At WEDF, ITC and Ali Baba, the Chinese online retailer, launched a practical guide, ‘E-Commerce in China: Opportunities for Asian Firms’, which aims to help firms better understand how to crack the Chinese market.

It was also announced that the next edition of the World Export Development Forum will be hosted by Hungary in October 2017.

Notes for the Editor

For more information on WEDF 2016, please visit and

For further information about the SheTrades initiative, please visit

For further information about the 2016 SME Competitiveness Outlook, please visit:

For download a digital version of ‘E-Commerce in China: Opportunities for Asian Firms’, please visit

About ITC
ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development. For more information, visit Follow ITC on Twitter: @ITCnews

About EDB

The Sri Lanka Export Development Board, is Sri Lanka's apex organization for the promotion and development of exports and was established in 1979 under the Sri Lanka Export Development Act No. 40. EDB is the executive arm of the Export Development Council of Ministers, which is the policy-making body of the EDB, and is headed by H.E. the President of Sri Lanka
Media contacts for the World Export Development Forum:


International Trade Centre

Mr. Jarle Hetland
Media Officer

Office of the Executive Director
P: +41 22 730 0651

M:+ 41 79 582 9180
E: hetland [at] (hetland[at]intracen[dot]org)


Sri Lanka Export Development Board

Ms. Malani Baddegamage

Focal point WEDF Publicity and Media

D: +94 11 2300679

P: +94 11 2300705 11 Ext. 300

F: +94 11 2305211

E: malani [at] (malani[at]edb[dot]gov[dot]lk)