State Minister of International Cooperation Susil Premajayantha
- Insists Govt. will support and protect investors
- Says visit of trade delegation shows investor confidence in new Government
- Foreign policy to promote global investment
- Focused on SMEs, keen on technology transfer from FDI
- Premajayantha says President has assured security
- Believes FTAs with India and Pakistan can spur regional development
The Government yesterday said they were open for business, calling on foreign investors to be confident in the support from the present administration and use existing Sri Lankan trade deals to do business and expand exports to the region.
State Minister of Intern-ational Cooperation Susil Premajayantha yesterday witnessing the signing of a MoU between the Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Industries (COSMI) and a Chinese trade delegation said that the foreign investors who move manufacturing to Sri Lanka can benefit from Sri Lankan free trade agreements and proximity to regional markets.
“Sri Lanka can provide a safe, secure environment with an abundance of human resources and opportunities for entrepreneurs to find good markets,” he opined, pointing out that the visit of the trade delegation, the first since the appointment of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took office, is a sign that indicates the international investors have confidence in the present Government.
“The Government is committed to improve bilateral relations with friendly countries and improve the trade relations with them,” he stated. The State Minister called on the Chinese to promote tourism, pointing out that the Chinese made up the majority of tourists since the Easter Sunday bombings. He said that Sri Lanka’s tourism sector has recovered from the attacks and the country was now secure.
“The Government, especially the President, guarantee the security of the people and your business in our country,” he added.
Speaking at the event, Premajayantha pointed out that Sri Lanka had a high literacy rate and skilled labour that would be beneficial for foreign investors along with FTAs with India and Pakistan which presented large markets which were geographically close. He stressed that investors will get State encouragement and urged the investors to take advantage of the free movement of goods between markets.
Premajayantha highlighted the need to help local entrepreneurs stating that technologically advanced countries like China can through investment transfer technology that can greatly assist local Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). “By bringing Chinese technology to Sri Lanka and manufacturing in Sri Lanka, we can add value to our export and increase trade,” he said.
COSMI which was set up several months ago aims to act as a facilitator and enabler to revive the SME sector in Sri Lanka which has been neglected for some time, said COSMI founder and President Nawaz Rajabdeen. COSMI will work with international delegations such as the visiting Chinese trade delegation to create investment opportunities and to act as a platform for local SMEs to find foreign partners in trade he stated.
The 15-member Chinese delegation was represented by members of the China Mianyang Association of Commerce and China Mianyang Enterprise Union for Import and Export. Two memoranda were signed at the event including a Cooperation Framework Agreement between COSMI and China Mianyang Enterprise Union for Import and Export, a Strategic Cooperation Agreement between COSMI and Sichuan Yiyang Xuanyu Trading Co. Ltd.
A series of business-to-business meetings were organised between the visiting delegation and local entrepreneurs was held after the MoUs were signed.
“COSMI looks forward to act as a facilitator between Mianyang Association of Commerce (MAC) and local entrepreneurs,” said Rajabdeen, adding that COSMI was planning to send a Sri Lankan delegation to the Chinese City in the future.
Speaking to the Daily FT, Mianyang Business Association Chairman Zhang Zhongcheng said that he was happy with the response they had revived from the Sri Lankan entrepreneurs he had met. “We need to get to know the demand and market in Sri Lanka,” Zhongcheng said, pointing out that Mianyang city in Sichuan province in China and had many technologically advanced industries and many investors keen to explore new opportunities.