The 17th annual general meeting (AGM) of the Sri Lanka Thailand Business Council (SLTBC) was held at Waters Edge, Battaramulla recently under the patronage of council President Rizan Nazeer.
Thai Ambassador Designate to Sri Lanka Chulamanee Chartsuwan revealed in 2016, Thailand and Sri Lanka governments set a target to triple trade value between the two countries from presently US $ 500 million to US $ 1500 million by 2020.
On investment side, she said there is no set target but with the Thai investment value jumping 10 times from US $ 70 million in 2015 to US $ 700 million in 2016, mainly through the investment by Siam City Cement in Insee company, there is no reason not to expect much more investment from Thailand.
“Just one very concrete example was another historic day in our economic relations as the joint letter of intent was signed between Sri Lankan BOI (Board of Investment) and Rojana Industrial Estate to establish Milleniya Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in the Kalutara District.
This EPZ – Sri Lanka’s first industrial zone in over a decade – will attract US $ 500 in its initial two phrases, expecting to create 10,000 new jobs through 100 manufacturing operations and the number of manufacturers operating there is expected to double at later stage when the EPZ is expanded from the initial 400 acres to 1000 acres. It is hoped that the approval and construction of infrastructure – normally five years – would be completed in one year and the project ready by end-2018,” Chartsuwan added.
She shared her mission as Ambassador of Thailand to Sri Lanka Chartsuwan: “First, I have got a clear signal to seek ways and means to upgrade our bilateral relationship to the level of strategic partnership. The political will from both sides is clear; the tricky part is to walk the talk. I can share with you that Thailand has already submitted a draft MoU on strategic partnership to the Sri Lankan counterpart. We identified in the draft MoU a number of areas of mutual interest. The next step is to develop certain form of plan of action.
But even during the development phase of this plan of action, line agencies have been working closely together. One example – by early September, the Primary Industry Ministry is going to sign a cooperation MoU with the Bank for Agriculture and Cooperatives and Kasetsart University, with a view to developing the primary industries in Sri Lanka through capacity building and knowledge sharing and to exploring the possibilities of obtaining credit lines to support the entrepreneurs engaged in exports and imports related to primary industries.
Second, I have been instructed to follow up with the Sri Lankan side on Thai-Sri Lanka FTA negotiations. I have been in close contact with the Commerce Ministry, which is responsible for these FTA negotiations.
Third, I set as my mission to identify areas where Thai and Sri Lankan businessmen can trade and invest. The areas of agriculture and processed food, gems and jewellery, electronics, automative parts, rubber, hospitality including hotel management, alternative energy, are some of the areas floating between both sides.”