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Last updated : Nov 2009
Sri Lanka Business
Sri Lanka Business Overview -
Sri Lanka Economy

Though some sectors of the economy have suffered terrible breakdown as a result of the civil war particularly the once promising tourist industry, Sri Lanka has managed the opposition to the extent that the economy performed fairly well during the last 5 years. This is shown in the average annual growth of between 3 and 6% (4% in 2002), while inflation and unemployment have been reduced to 9.7 and 9.2% respectively.

Agriculture employs about 1-3rd of the working population and directly contributes around 20% of GDP. The key cash crops are rubber, tea and coconuts, providing more than 75% of export earnings; rice is grown for consumption inside the country. Fishing and forestry are also meaningful.

The principal industrial sectors are mining (gemstones and graphite being the major minerals), and manufacturing. Iron ore, clay, limestone and uranium ore are also present in commercial quantities. Hydroelectricity is the key source of power, augmented by imported oil. Some main manufacturing industries are cement and textiles, both of which are export earners.

In the service sector, the growth of tourism has been stuck by the civil war and the tsunami; however, banking and insurance have both been performing well. Since the mid-1990s the government have followed the general market-oriented policies – privatization and deregulation – while searching to build up possible export-earning industries. This strategy was a slow performer at first, but the government has persevered and some benefits are beginning to materialize.

The current peace talks and on again, off again ceasefire between government and rebels has boosted investor confidence both at home and abroad, and relieved Sri Lanka’s lack of investment capital. The government is wishing to strengthen its progress by more deregulation, fiscal reform, and privatization. The state still owns 90% of the island’s land and the bulk of its utilities.

India, Japan, UK and the USA are Sri Lanka’s main trading partners.


Business dress is not formal. English is spoken in business circles. Appointments are required and it is appreciate to arrive on time. It is customary to exchange visiting cards on 1st introduction.

Office hours: Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 4.30 pm.

Commercial Information

The following organisations can offer information and advice:

Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka, Level Three, 53 Vauxhall Lane, Colombo 2 (telephone: (1) 230 4253; fax: (1) 230 4254/5; email:

Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (Sri Lanka Tourist Hotels Association), 50 Navam Mawatha, Colombo 2 (telephone: (1) 245 2183 or 242 1745 or 232 9143; fax: (1) 243 7477 or 244 9352; email:

Conferences and Conventions

For more information, contact:

Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Hotel School Building, 4th Floor, 80 Galle Road, Colombo 3 (telephone: (74) 713 500/1 or (1) 2440 002; fax: (1) 2472 985; email: