China says Sri Lanka has the potential to become the centre of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road while driving the trade and economic co-operation between China and Sri Lanka to a new level.
Addressing the 17th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sri Lanka-China Business Council (SLCHBC), Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Cheng Xueyuan said, “It’s pertinent that we could make further advances to promote bilateral trade and economic nexus to a new level and build Sri Lanka as the core and centre of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road.” The ambassador noted that Sri Lanka is one of the chosen countries to offer support under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as a participant in the BRI, which was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, aiming to further promote economic co-operation.
Xueyuan stressed that China stands ready to assist Sri Lanka to further enhance economic and trade co-operation under the BRI to achieve its development goals.
He pointed out that the bilateral ties between the two countries have grown in spite of the changes of government, which can serve as a model to state to state relations. “Our economic and trade co-operation has achieved great progress. The value of bilateral trade in 2017 reached US $ 4.4 billion and tourist arrivals from China reached 270,000 in 2017.”
Meanwhile, the incumbent SLCHBC President Yasantha Abeykoone was re-elected for a new term.
Addressing the AGM, Abeykoone noted that as China is expected to import products and services valuing more than US $ 10 trillion during the next five years, it would be a historic opportunity for businesses to enter the Chinese market, which Sri Lankan businesses should capitalise on.
“It is imperative that the business community in Sri Lanka looks to capitalise on these opportunities, which will entail further economic growth. We, the business community, should explore more avenues for both countries to thrive economically and otherwise,” he said.
Abeykoone noted that the National Export Strategy, which is to be launched this week, would facilitate Sri Lankan exporters to enter into markets such as China.
“As you may be already aware, Sri Lanka is currently looking at constructing a national policy for exports and is taking measures to target a 15 percent increase in exports every year,” he added.
He also urged the Sri Lankan business community to utilise the investment promotion events in China, as a platform to grow their exports to China.
“The investment promotion events to be held in China this year, such as China-ASEAN Expo and China International Import Expo, will be opened to enterprises across the world. These events will no doubt serve as good platforms to broadcasting bilateral cooperation for trade, investments in products and services,” he said. (NF)