Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday said the entry of Bank of China, the world’s fourth largest bank with $ 2.7 trillion assets, to Sri Lanka was yet another important step in building a stronger economy.
“It (the entry) shows that in the last three years we have been successful and in that we have got one of the largest banks in the world, Bank of China, to come to Sri Lanka and to commence,” the Premier said at the launch of Bank of China at a ceremony held at Shangri-La Colombo. He also described BOC’s entry as a new chapter in the modern economic history of Sri Lanka and China.
“Certainly the bank of China has an important role to play for the making of financial enterprises available to Sri Lanka and by bringing as much Chinese investments to Sri Lanka,” he emphasised, adding that it marked the beginning of another long relationship that would ensure the growth of the Bank of China and more so the growth of a strong economy for Sri Lanka.
“The modern economic relationship between our two countries we started with the Rubber-Rice Pact and it has now come to our common understanding of the One Belt initiative proposed by China and the hub of the Indian Ocean proposed by Sri Lanka,” the Prime Minister added.
Wickremesinghe said that the Government in the last three years took major measures to ensure that Sri Lanka’s economy developed and became strong.
“What we have done is stabilise the economy bringing in new laws, in opening up foreign investment is wholly impressive. We started the process of becoming the hub of the Indian Ocean, expanding and developing the nation,” the Premier said.
Referring to Chinese investments in the Port City as well as the Hambantota Port, Wickremesinghe said these were just the beginning of a larger area of economic cooperation. He also mentioned about the impending FTA with China.
The Premier went on to speak on the expanding economic cooperation with several other nations such as India and Singapore and the recent re-entry into the EU GSP Plus scheme, all of which widened the addressable market for Sri Lanka and making it a hub.
Bank of China Chairman Wang Xiquan said the presence of Premier Wickremesinghe at the opening fully emphasised the importance attached to Bank of China and deepening financial and economic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.
He said Bank of China was a global, banking giant with an international history of over 100 years. In recent years, Bank of China has continued to accelerate the development of globalisation. As of now, Bank of China has close to 600 overseas branches in six continents and has established agency relations with more than 1,600 financial institutions in 179 countries and regions. Bank of China’s business performance and brand value have been well received by global investors and customers.
“The opening of Bank of China Colombo branch will mark the beginning of a new era for the Chinese financial industry to serve the important country of Sri Lanka,” he emphasised. “It is a new milestone in Sino-Lanka cooperation,” he added.
The Chairman said Bank of China would use the opening of its branch in Colombo as an opportunity to closely focus on the overall strategic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka and fully support the implementation of key projects between the two countries.
Once opened in Sri Lanka, it will provide comprehensive financial services for local economic development and market prosperity, assisting more Chinese companies and investors to enter the Sri Lankan market and using financial strength to set up a bridge for cross-border trade between the two countries.
“Bank of China is eager to strengthen cooperation with local financial institutions and make joint efforts to become participants and promoters of a pragmatic brand of Sino-Lanka cooperation. We are confident that this opening will pave the way for much greater expansion of trade and personnel exchanges and that cooperation between our two countries will lead us to a better tomorrow,” Xiquan stressed.
“Bank of China will use the Colombo branch establishment as a starting point to work together with Sri Lankan friends and to walk together to make a greater contribution to the economic prosperity of the two countries,” he added.