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Kabir Hashim woos more Italian investments

Comments / 332 Views / Monday, 23 March 2015 00:00

Minister of Highways, Investment Promotion and Higher Education Kabir Hashim addresses the Sri Lanka- Italy Business Council of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce     At a recent breakfast meeting of the Sri Lankan Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Minister of Highways, Investment Promotion and Higher Education Kabir Hashim addressed a large gathering of invitees on the potential for trade and investment between Sri Lanka and Italy. The Minister emphasised the fact that Sri Lanka and Italy’s relations go back to ancient times when the Sinhalese Kingdom traded with the Roman Empire. Italy and Sri Lanka have therefore been traditional partners for centuries and currently there are eight major Italian companies that operate under the BOI, focusing on garment manufacture, footwear, tourism, rubber basic products, horticulture, paper base products and coir. Many of these Italian enterprises such as the Caledonia Group are engaged in the manufacture and retail of garments and have well-known international brand names. Goods produced by Italian companies are permitted to access the Indian and Pakistani markets through the Free Trade Agreements with those two countries if they establish manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka. India offers a massive and rapidly growing market of over a million while Pakistan with a 180 million population also offers considerable potential. Minister Kabir Hashim also told the gathering that he was confident that in the future, investors from Italy will look at sectors such as gems and jewellery, ceramic, tourism, food processing, cosmetics and perfumes. These are sectors where Sri Lanka enjoyed strong competitive advantage since the raw material and the skills available in the country. He also said that internationally Sri Lanka had made considerable strides and had moved out of a position of isolation. Many in the country were deeply moved by the recent visit of Pope Francis. The main challenge that Sri Lanka should address on the investment front, was to ensure that there is consistency of policy so that the rules, rights and obligations of investors are very clear from the onset. This would lead to greater competiveness and better performance in the Doing Business index. The other factor was to develop skills and education which are needed by industries seeking advanced manufacture in Sri Lanka. Minister Kabir Hashim also stated that the focus should be on manufacturing and that the private sector should take the lead in the economy.

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