Middle East investors see Sri Lanka as ‘fertile for entry’: MTI

Monday, 9 June 2014 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • But cautions a lot more needs to be done to convert these to investments
According to MTI’s ‘Market Pulse’, Middle East investors (particularly in the six Gulf States) are increasingly positive about entering and investing into Sri Lanka. MTI’s ‘Market Pulse’ is a qualitative research initiative that ‘senses’ corporate, HNI and investor perceptions about investing in emerging markets. “The last two years has seen increasing leisure travel into Sri Lanka by Arab and expat corporate executives which has triggered interest in considering Sri Lanka for business investments and setting up operations," Hilmy Cader, CEO of Bahrain-based MTI Consulting, with a network of associates that span the MENA region. "Rewind four to five years and this same group would not even have considered such pursuits, but today they are certainly open and positive about Sri Lanka as an attractive emerging market destination,” he added. However Cader said despite several high profile heads of states visits and trade delegations between the Gulf States and Sri Lanka investment inflows still remains relatively low. According to MTI Consulting the reason for this could be two-fold i.e. Gulf Investors need a lot more ‘hand-holding’ in the initial market entry process (particularly in entering non-Arabic speaking emerging markets) and their inability (perception) to find suitable projects outside tourism. Taking a cue from Gulf investments into Lebanon after the war, the appeal of capital markets has been low. Sri Lanka could also take some learning from the success of Gulf investments into Malaysia vs. Indonesia, despite the untapped potential and much larger size of the latter. MTI cautions that Sri Lanka is currently at a ‘fertile for entry’ stage but a lot needs to be done before this is converted to tangible investments.