For Immediate Release:
March 12th, 2005
Contact: Laksiri Lokubalasuriya, Secretary.

Ambassador C.S.Poolokasingham, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Toronto, on Saturday, March 12th, patronized the inauguration ceremony of the Sri Lankan Chamber of Commerce in Canada, federally incorporated, first ever Sri Lankan Chamber outside of Sri Lanka in the presence of a well attended gathering.

Speaking on the occasion, the newly elected, President of the Chamber, Cecil Rodrigo, said that Ambassador C.S. Poolokasingham’s patronage is a great support and encouragement to the Chamber, and expressed hope that this Chamber could be an economic tool in the process of enhancing trade relations between Canada and Sri Lanka.

The guest speaker, former Chairman of the CNBPA (Canadian Netherlands Business and professionals association), former chair and board advisor to the EU Chamber of Commerce and the International Chamber of Commerce and the COO and Vice President Global Marketing/Sales & Global Communications of TPS International Inc, Yohan Byrde; highlighted challenges facing by the private sector when the Sri Lankan economy is passing through an era of reform. “The road to success as entrepreneurs is an open one and it is up to us to join forces, skills educational and cultural backgrounds and support organizations such as this newly formed Sri Lankan Chamber of commerce in Canada, and prove that we can participate forcefully in the economic development and growth” he noted. “The business world is changing faster and more unpredictably than ever. Markets are expanding worldwide, creating economic interdependencies, global operations, workforce mobility, and global regulations. To stay competitive, your business needs to move with the changes and achieve the speed, flexibility and resilience to handle whatever the market does next on a worldwide basis” he added. Yohan Byrde’s address was based on the idea of Chamber like this suggests a new approach necessitated by developments in the international economy in the era of globalization, which opens doors of knowledge for all nations.

In his address to the gathering, the newly elected President, thanked the guests, media organizations for their support, and many people, who contributed their time and talent, with tremendous sacrifices, to bring this Chamber to life. “Some played a leading roll, but some played a roll in the background. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today. Many of the key players are here today; but some are not here with us. To recognize, the ones, that are not here today, who are our families who played a roll in the background, we should be thankful and grateful for them, for letting us spend many evenings and weekends that belong to them, on Chamber matters.” President said.

President noted: “continue to be successful; we need the participation of our membership, at every level. Members meetings, networking sessions and committees, are always looking for member participation. The Chamber Board can’t do this alone, but with your help, and our many partners in the community, including the media, we can, and will continue to make a difference. As you can see the opportunities for success are limitless. It’s my belief, that these opportunities for success, will have a positive influence and an impact on our community here, and back home and businesses as well. Sri Lankan Chamber of Commerce in Canada is a member- driven organization. Our pledge is to work tirelessly to facilitate trade for our members and the beneficiaries, and to add, a real value to membership through our many program of publications, seminars, events, functions, trade missions and preferred purchasing arrangements. As we look to the future, we will continue to pursue, all ideas that we outlined, in the interim report that you heard today.”

The opening ceremony was attended by the Chamber Corporate Legal Counsel, Bryon Cohen, and a number of senior officials of corporate entities, and media organizations. The Interim report was presented by Former Secretary General of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka and Deputy Secretary to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Chandra Silva.

Interim President’s Report to the Chamber Members

Dear Ambassador C.S.Poolokasingham, Members of the Sri Lankan Chamber of Commerce in Canada, Invited Guests, and Media Organizations: Your Sri Lankan Chamber of Commerce in Canada has been officially stated business today thanks to the efforts of our members, volunteers and support of our interim board of directors and specially the Consul General of Sri Lanka.

In 2004 Cecil R. Rodrigo, Management consultant and an employee of Magna International Corporation and Michael G. Fernando, President of Greenlink International, discussed the importance of having an active organization in Toronto to promote trade relations and Investments between Canada and Sri Lanka. Shortly after, Cecil Rodrigo met Ms. Geeta De Silva, The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Canada and Ambassador C.S.Poolokasingham, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Toronto to discuss the idea of a national institution to represent the unified interests of Sri Lankan business organizations with objectives to promote trade relations and Investments between Canada and Sri Lanka.

The idea of a national institution to represent the unified interests of Sri Lankan business first took shape when Cecil Rodrigo, in a vision presentation before a group of prominent Sri Lankan businessmen on November 27th, 2004, addressed the need for a "central organization in touch with associations and chambers of commerce in Sri Lanka and able to keep purely Sri Lankan interests in a closer touch with different phases of commercial affairs promoting trade relations and investments between Canada and Sri Lanka".

In 2005 January, an interim board of directors was appointed and a Corporate Lawyer’s service was obtained to complete the Chamber constitution and the by-laws, and on January 26th, 2005 Sri Lankan Chamber of Commerce in Canada was incorporated under the Canada Corporation Act as a Canadian Federal Not-for-Profit organization.

Four months later, today, the vision has become a reality when members of the Chamber from various commercial and trade entities came together to create a unified body of business interest that today is the Sri Lankan Chamber of Commerce in Canada.

Throughout the four months, we continued to structure this Chamber and to design a great benefit package for our membership to enhance member services, expand Networking opportunities, and improve coordination with other organizations and influence legislation and public policy. We streamlined the membership application process and had one Public Information Session at the residence of the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Toronto. We will have similar sessions in the future not only in Toronto, but in Ottawa, London, Ontario and Windsor so that the Business Communities in those areas can join us.

The Chamber made proposals to affiliate this Chamber with the National Chamber of Commerce and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka. We are extremely proud to say that we have received confirmation that this Chamber will soon be affiliated with National Chamber of Commerce and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka.

Our interim President met the Honorary Consul Generals of Sri Lanka in Montreal and Vancouver recently and had discussions to affiliate the Business Councils in Montreal and Vancouver when they are formed, with the Sri Lankan Chamber to work together in promoting trade relations between Canada and Sri Lanka. As we look back, we are extremely proud of all what we accomplished within this short period. We made significant progress in our quest to form a prestigious and strong Sri Lankan business association outside Sri Lanka and most influential business grouping in North America, where you and I will be proud to be members.

We do not want to underestimate or overlook the road blocks, red tapes, politics and issues that we will face along our way. We will adopt proper procedures, use corrective actions and utilize our influences when we face such issues and situations. We have plans to create a management system to address such issues. All of these issues will be identified and prioritized with responses and feedbacks from our membership, which will give us clear direction on how we can improve the mission of your chamber. After today we will spend much time examining our marketing strategy and that will begin to yield impressive results. Our advertising and promotion this year will lead us to many successes, including launching many business development programs and initiatives. Apart from many other events and programs, we will have at least one trade and consumer show that will enable us to sell and promote the goods and services of Sri Lankan manufacturer’s in Canada and to provide an opportunity for Canadian businesses to meet the Sri Lankan trade delegations in Canada before the 2005 year is over.

We have plans to create accountability in every position in the Chamber. We will create a “Score Card System” to measure the performance of every Officer, Director and a Committee that we elect or appoint in this Chamber. Periodical Performance Reviews will ensure the objectives of the members and the chamber is achieved.

In the near future, Sri Lankan Chamber will take the leadership to open communications and a dialogue with Canada – Sri Lanka Business Council, Tamil Chamber of Commerce and other South Asian Regional Business Associations in Canada to plan a strategy to work together to achieve the common goals eliminating duplicated efforts.

Our Web site,, with a layout that is easy to navigate and updated news is being developed and will be launched soon. We will maintain this site with most up to date information and members and non members will be able to obtain information. This site will provide referrals to member businesses as well. We will develop the member portion of the site and will place media communications online, which enables you and your employees to receive communications from the chamber periodically and real time. With your enthusiastic support, your chamber will be structured and positioned itself for a bright future. We have studied each function of the chamber with one objective. That is improving the organization and its results. This is a challenging process but well worth the effort. We would like to thank Ambassador C.S.Poolokasingham, the interim board members, the consulate staff, as well as the volunteers that have worked so hard to serve and build this Chamber and our community.

It is our pleasure to serve as the members of this outstanding organization. The coming year will be filled with challenge, change and triumph. We are proud of our past, but we remain convinced that our brightest opportunities lie ahead. Thank you for supporting the Sri Lankan Chamber of Commerce in Canada

Cecil Rodrigo
Interim President