Did you know that . . . The seat in your Mercedes comes from Sri Lankan coconuts? Your high-end ceramic dishes were designed and produced in Sri Lanka? The cinnamon in your curry is Sri Lanka's finest? The world's best tea is harvested in Sri Lanka's high country?
Eight industries in Sri Lanka are gearing up to compete and succeed in global markets, thanks in part to a project managed by Nathan Associates Inc. In the first phase of The Competitiveness Initiative Nathan helped the coir, ceramics, spices, tea, jewelry, rubber, IT, and tourism industries form industry clusters and devise business strategies for developing and pursuing high-value market segments. The firm also helped lay the foundation for a National Competitiveness Council, and Sri Lanka was included for the first time in the Global Competitiveness Report, published annually since 1979 by the World Economic Forum and Harvard University's Center for International Development.
With hopes high for the latest peace initiative by Sri Lanka's newly elected government, the project is now entering its second phase. The industry clusters, which will begin pursuing their new business strategies, will also be institutionalizing their organizations to sustain the benefits of cooperation and of speaking with one voice to government policymakers. At the same time, the government will pursue economic reforms that encourage competitiveness. Nathan Associates will assist with both these activities and will continue to publicize the benefits of competitiveness to the general public.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the ultimate goal of this project is to generate wealth in the medium and long term while raising Sri Lanka's standard of living. Nathan Associates, and its contractual partner, J.E. Austin Associates, is managing or has contributed to other competitiveness projects in, Bulgaria, Croatia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Thailand, and the Philippines. As an economic concept, competitiveness has been very effective in unifying the purposes of the public and private sector; as a practice it is rewarding merit and effort in both business and government.