By Charumini de Silva in China
Sri Lanka should harness its full potential of being strategically located on the Silk Route, which connects ideally to both East and West markets, the People’s Government of Yunnan Province Foreign Affairs Office Chief Counsel Jin Cheng said.
He said that the Silk Route would not have been successful without Sri Lanka. “We envy Sri Lanka its location.
We do not have the sea and that strategic location. Thus, Sri Lanka must explore its full potential of its strategic geographical advantage,” Cheng told a group of visiting Sri Lankan journalists in China. With Yunnan serving as China’s gateway to Southeast and South Asian countries, he said that they wished to enhance bilateral trade with Sri Lanka.
Commenting on the trade between Yunnan Province and Sri Lanka, Cheng said that it had increased steadily during the past three years.
Further clarifying his point, he asserted that during the last year, trade between Yunnan Province and Sri Lanka accounted to $1 million compared to three years ago where there was no trade taking place.
“We have already established relations with Sri Lanka at different levels with the Commerce Ministry, Foreign Ministry and also at corporate levels,” he noted.
Cheng asserted that there was huge potential for business and trade in Yunnan province, adding that they looked forward to economic cooperation in the near future.
He said a Sri Lankan company had come forward to set up a business in Yunnan Province already. “There are many good openings for Sri Lankan companies in the areas of hotel trade and petroleum. With number of tourist arrivals increasing at a significant pace, there are promising opportunities in hotel and restaurants business.”
However, he pointed that most Sri Lankan companies were yet to tap into the potential business climate in Yunnan Province.
“We hope that with the developments taking place in the Yunnan Province economically and one Sri Lankan company setting up a venture here, it will create more interest and awareness of the potential business opportunities,” Cheng added.
Further he noted that Yunnan Province was working on an agriculture program with Sri Lanka.
In addition to bilateral trade he said that Sri Lanka was very important for them in the area of cultural exchange, especially in terms of Buddhism.
Yunnan has trade ties with many countries and regions, where major exports include chemical products, non-ferrous metals, cigarettes, tea, machinery, light industry products and medicines. In 2014, GDP of the province amounted to RMB 1,281, 459 billion yuan, while foreign trade volume of reached $29.622 billion, an increase of 17.1%.