‘Mathata Thitha’ in action!

Thursday, 24 February 2011 01:08 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Vice Minister of Trade and Energy of the Knowledge and Economy Ministry of South Korea Park Young June joins in a toast with a glass of orange juice for stronger trade ties with Sri Lanka along with Trade and Industry Minister Rishard Bathiudeen and CCC Chairman Dr. Anura Ekanayake at a luncheon meeting held yesterday – Pic by Daminda Harsha Perera

Sri Lanka woos UK and South Korea for FDI

Encourages business expansion to new sectors and wants direct flight connections with Seoul

By Uditha Jayasinghe

Sri Lanka is looking to boost its flagging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by wooing opportunities from South Korea and UK with two high profile ministers in town for trade-related discussions.

Vice Minister for Trade and Energy of the Knowledge and Economy Ministry Park Young June joined in discussions with Trade and Industry Minister Rishard Bathiudeen regarding investment opportunities along with the head of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) yesterday while UK Minister Alistair Burt did the same with External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris.

At the luncheon meeting held for June, Sri Lankan Minister Bathiudeen pointed out that several sectors including power, waste recycling and real estate were among the sectors that South Korea could expand into. At present there are 56 Korean projects in Sri Lanka with a total of US$ 33 million giving 10,000 jobs. In addition there are over 20,000 migrant workers in South Korea.

In 2010 Sri Lanka recorded Rs.3.4 billion worth of exports to Korea while Rs. 22 billion imports were made from Korea. Bathiudeen also recalled that during a visit of Economic Minister Basil Rajapaksa, it had been agreed to establish direct air links between Colombo and Seoul.

“Lack of direct air travel is one of the greatest hindrances to trade between Sri Lanka and South Korea. Apparel, coconut fibres, rubber gloves, wheat flour, quartz, re-treated pneumatic tyres and mattresses are the main exports from Sri Lanka. Direct trade travel would assist this greatly.”

The Minister along with CCC head Dr. Anura Ekanayake strongly urged South Korea to take advantage of the post-war opportunities in Sri Lanka. The same sentiments were passed onto Alistair Burt, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia, who concluded his visit on Tuesday night.

A press release from the from the British High Commission noted that the Minister heard about the growing number of Sri Lanka-UK businesses success stories and said he looked forward to both countries benefitting from even more bilateral trade and investment.

He noted that Sri Lanka’s geographical location and strong post-war economic growth were encouraging more British businesses to explore opportunities on the island.

In 2009, UK investment in Sri Lanka totalled nearly US$ 300 million – the second largest share of FDI from a single country for the year. UK exports to Sri Lanka totalled US$ 186 million while exports from Sri Lanka to the UK totalled US$ 1 billion in 2009. Currently, over 100 businesses with close British affiliations operate in Sri Lanka, spanning sectors such as education, construction and financial services.

UK tourists represent the second largest group of foreign visitors to Sri Lanka recording over 100,000 visitors in 2010 and collectively spend more in Sri Lanka than visitors from any other country.