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Last updated : Nov 2009
Colombo Business Profile
Colombo Business Overview -
Business Profile

One of the faster developing countries of the Third World, the Sri Lankan economy was mostly based on agricultural products. Agriculture supports about 1-3rd of the working population and contributes around 20% of GDP. The principal cash crops are tea, coconuts and rubber, which produce 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.


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; e-mail:

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; e-mail:

Conferences and Conventions

For further 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; e-mail: