Sri Lanka will aggressively pursue the signing of the much talked about and long overdue Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China soon, Sri Lankan Ambassador designate to China. Dr. Palitha Kohona said.
He was addressing a seminar on Opportunities in China for Sri Lanka organized by Director, Federation of Chamber of Commerce, (FCCISL), P. H. Ruwan De Silva and Senior Vice President FCCISL, Keerthi Keerthi Gunawardane in Colombo on Tuesday. “Unlike the previously inked Sri Lanka, FTA’s, we will negotiate for better terms for Sri Lanka and ensure that it would be a win agreement for both countries.”
Dr. Kohona said that the China Sri Lanka trade balance is strongly in favor of China with USD 5 billion imports and USD 30 million exports and local exporters are partly to be blamed for this. “Sri Lanka tea is considered a high fashion drink in China especially among youngsters and local exporters have not successfully exploited this.”
China is the world’s largest economy by purchasing power parity (PPP), not the US. China’s economy has reached a stunning 25.4 trillion USD. This is a massive leap from less than USD 200 PPP in 1970. In comparison, Sri Lanka’s GDP per capita in 2019 was around USD 3,900 (it was USD 184 in 1970).” Sri Lanka also sits in the middle of a rapidly prospering region with Africa and the Middle East to the west, India to the North and ASEAN and Australia to the East. The economic power houses, China, Japan and Korea, are further to the East.
The newly created Colombo Port City, with its potential of modern tropical comforts, beckons international finance houses, educational establishments and health care facilities, while the Hambantota Port and its export processing zone appear to be an obvious destination for manufacturing concerns seeking to access the commercial opportunities offered by the region.
“Chinese businesses would obviously find the prospects attractive but these should be marketed to China professionally, respecting their traditions.”
He also said that for the past two years there were no clear and long term investment benefits spelled out to attract FDI and this would be done at the forthcoming budget.
He also said that local entrepreneurs should be more innovative and should not give up saying there is recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”We must remember that ballooners were created during the world’s biggest recessions similar to the present conditions.” Former President FCCISL, Ruwan Edirisinghe said that China is making huge investments in Indonesia and other countries for the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) and requested Dr. Kohona to explore the possibility of channeling some BRI Chinese investments to Sri Lanka.
Prasad Samarasinghe representing the ICT sector requested him to conduct webinars linking the local and Chinese ICT sector.