Japanese Ambassador Guest Speaker at the CMTA Breakfast Forum
The Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) the most senior automotive association in South Asia, recently concluded another Stakeholder Breakfast Forum, which was held at the Hilton Colombo Residencies. The event was graced by the Ambassador for Japan in Sri Lanka His Excellency Mizukoshi Hideaki as the guest speaker while several senior officials from Ministries, Government Institutions and other stakeholder organizations of the Motor Industry also participated.
Charaka Perera, Chairman of the Ceylon Motor Traders’ Association, addressed the gathering highlighting the need to regulate the motor industry to protect consumers, environment and the economy. Citing many non-essential imports done in the last few years, he suggested that the government should consider a quota system for all such industries and offer a quota for the automobile industry as well, which would also enable to reduce the exorbitantly high used vehicles prices. He stressed that efficient mobility is essential for the functioning of any economy and that 50% of the current vehicle fleet in the country is over 10 years old.
Perera said: “With all due respect these industries, I wish to highlight the import expenditure for the two calendar years of 2020 & 2021 of some of them. It was $421M to import finished clothing & accessories, $739M for Home Appliances & furniture, $310M for seafood $122M for cosmetics & toiletries and the list goes on.
The total forex outflow for these 04 categories alone was $1,592M for two years. Therefore, we believe that there should have been a quota system for most of these industries which could have allowed all of them to survive including ours. Considering the numbers I stated, the auto industry could have easily been allocated at least $400M, which would have been sufficient for the industry to manage our businesses without bleeding, save over 15,000 lost jobs and provide much needed government revenue” Concluding his address, he requested the Ambassadors support to regulate the industry and to support the establishment of an automotive component manufacturing & export industry in the country.
The gathering was then addressed by Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideki. In his address, Ambassador Mizukoshi spoke of the important need of economic and fiscal reforms conditioned by the IMF, as they would help restore the local economy sustainably. He further elaborated on Japan’s wide-ranging assistance to Sri Lanka and his perspectives on the promotion of Japanese investment in Sri Lanka, and the challenges faced by Japanese companies in doing so.
He said “I would like to congratulate Sri Lanka for the successful approval of the IMF facility as it marks a major step for the revitalization of Sri Lanka’s economy. In order to fully restore the economy in a sustainable manner, Sri Lanka needs to implement a series of fiscal and economic reforms agreed with IMF and Japan continues to support such efforts. Now that IMF EFF is approved, I hope that overtime the economy of Sri Lanka would be recovered and Sri Lanka would be ready to lift restrictions for imports of automobiles“
After his address, the Ambassador took part in a Q & A Session which was moderated by Mr. Yasendra Amerasinghe, the Immediate Past Chairman of the CMTA and answered several questions from the moderator and the audience on varied topics. The Ambassador mentioned that supporting the sustainable development including de-carbonization, filling the gaps of different standards of living in different regions, supporting the improvement of investment environment falls within the priorities of Japan for Sri Lanka. Regarding EVs, he commented that if the power is generated with coal, there is not much advantage in electric vehicles and that Sri Lanka should consider decarbonisation in power generation. But he also mentioned that a Japanese company is interested in making electric three wheelers in Sri Lanka as they are mainly for short runs.
Founded in 1920, the Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) is the only Ceylon Chamber of Commerce affiliated trade body that represents vehicle manufacturers through their locally appointed franchise holders (commonly called ‘agents’). The members of the CMTA collectively employ and train thousands of Sri Lankan citizens while bringing in international best practices in engineering and management, developing a talent pool that is trained and employable internationally.
- Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki being presented a token of appreciation by CMTA Chairman Charaka Perera, Immediate Past Chairman Yasendra Amerasinghe and Senior Vice Chairman Virann De Zoysa.
- Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki addressing the gathering
- CMTA Chairman Charaka Perera addressing the gathering