China-South Asia Expo 2015 kicks off

15 June 2015 02:49 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Sunil Jayasiri in Kunming, China

The China-South Asia Expo 2015 trade fair is currently underway at the Kunming Dianchi International Convention & Exhibition Centre in Kunming, China, where a record number of 129 participants are taking part representing Sri Lanka.

The mega trade fair that was inaugurated on June 12 by Vice President of China Li Yuanchao will end on Wednesday.

The highest number of participations recorded - 123 private sector organisations and five government institutions - at this year’s fair from Sri Lanka, were facilitated by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB).

Board of Investment (BoI) in Sri Lanka Assistant Director Darshana Wettasinghe said that many investors showed their interest to enter the Sri Lankan market. “Even during the first day, a large number of Chinese investors visited the Sri Lankan exhibition area,” he said.

Wettasinghe said that some Chinese investors expressed their satisfaction to do business in Sri Lanka and the facilities given by the Sri Lankan government for such business. He said during the fair, the Board of Investment (BoI) is to take every measure to reach more and more Chinese investors in order to further strengthen trade ties between the two nations.

Sri Lanka’s EDB was at the fair to facilitate the needs of both Sri Lankan participants as well as investors. EDB Deputy Director Market Development Prasanna Jayasinghe told Mirror Business that in the recent past exports to China have increased by many folds.

Exports to China from Sri Lanka in the recent past have shown an upward trend reaching   US $ 173.48 million in 2014 from a mere US $ 25.64 million in 2006. 

Sri Lanka’s main export items to China are apparel, footwear, tea in bulk, mixed coir fibre, mattress fibre, sheet rubber and rubber tyres, etc.
 
The imports to Sri Lanka from China have also increased from US $ 630 million in 2005 to US $ 3,414 million in 2014.

“This trade fair is a good opportunity for Sri Lankan businesses as well as Sri Lanka as whole to showcase the country’s desire to gain more investments,” he added.

At the expo there are over 500 domestic guests from 27 provinces, regions and municipalities, 12 national ministers and commissions, 18 central enterprises, 100 private companies and 10 financial institutions taking part.

The number of overseas booths this year has been increased by 50 percent compared to that of last year. Special zones have been set for India. Seventy five countries and regions worldwide are taking part in the exhibition with the number of exhibitors being over 20,000, covering all eight South Asian nations and 10 ASEAN countries.

Some 87 renowned enterprises are taking part in the expo, including 25 Fortune 500 companies and eight top 500 domestic ones. As the theme country, India has organised the exhibition of about 100 companies, including TATA Group, Infosys Groups, Air India and Indian Jet Airways.

Meanwhile, addressing the inauguration ceremony Vice President of China Yuanchao hailed Sri Lanka and pledged more assistance to the island nation.
Yuanchao highlighted the close links between Sri Lanka and China specially in the field of diplomacy.

He also reminded Sri Lanka’s move to ink the Rubber-Rice Pact in 1950s even though there were no diplomatic missions started between the two countries.
Yuanchao also highlighted the importance of connectivity among the countries for economic advancement.

He said that China has paid profound attention to improving the transportation infrastructure in the region. As an example, Yuanchao mentioned about the Chinese government-funded Colombo - Katunayake expressway that help to fasten transportation in the country.

Vice Chairman of CPPCC National Committee and Minister of Science and Technology in China Wan Gang, President of Maldives Abdulla Yaameen, Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong, Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Vice Prime Minister of Vietnam Hoang Trung Hai, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen and other foreign leaders attended the inauguration.

Some 440 foreign guests including 36 ministerial-level senior officials, 42 foreign governors and mayors, 28 foreign ambassadors and consular-generals in China and heads of international organisations were present at the expo.Meanwhile, Minister Bathiudeen addressing the 10th China South Asia Business Forum- Kunming, China, said that there are many sectors yet to be tapped. 

“China has already made a substantial amount of investments in Sri Lanka. In 2014, this stood at US $ 403.5 million,” he said. “However, there is much scope for further investment in sectors yet to be tapped,” he added. 

“Sri Lanka welcomes committed and promising Chinese investors such as you, who can transfer skills and know-how for these sectors. These sectors are tourism and leisure, infrastructure, knowledge services, utilities, apparels, export manufacturing, export services, agriculture and education,” he said.   
He also said that Sri Lanka also encourages investments in low-cost energy and renewable power generation projects. 

China is also the third largest tourist market of Sri Lanka. It is also one of the rapidly emerging tourism markets. Tourist arrivals from China in 2014 were 128,166. 

“This is a promising sector and we invite you to come and invest in tourism-related infrastructure development,” he added.

The minister also assured that Sri Lanka is ready and committed to give its maximum cooperation to the dynamic Chinese business community and invited investors to explore the emerging opportunities in Sri Lanka.
 
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