Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (right) discusses with Consul General of India in Jaffna Shri. A. Natarajan (left) and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) Exhibition Council Chairman Vinay R Sharma (centre)
India’s largest trade chamber, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) expressed its interest in investing heavily in the Northern Province during the Jaffna International Trade Fair which was held recently, a communiqué from the Industry and Commerce Ministry said.
“This is the first time ASSOCHAM is entering Sri Lanka in this way and we are here to partner with Sri Lankan businesses in joint ventures, partnerships and even new business openings in many sectors including automotives and textiles,” ASSOCHAM Exhibition Council Chairman Vinay Sharma said.
He stressed that ASSOCHAM, which has over 475,000 members, is viewing the Northern Province as having the most potential, compared to the southern parts of Sri Lanka, where Indian investments are now saturated.
“Most importantly, many of the firms in this delegation to Jaffna are looking to partner with Sri Lankan companies that are sick or are on the verge of closure or even already closed down-at whatever size or level. We are ready to partner or acquire and revive them,” Sharma said.
He added that ASSOCHAM is open to starting export-oriented industrial zones in Sri Lanka as well.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe envisages the northern parts of Sri Lanka to link with the southern states of India to create a regional economy.
Total trade between India and Sri Lanka was US$ 4.91 billion in 2015, of which US$ 645 million were Sri Lankan exports.
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen noted that since Northern Province’s gross domestic product is the smallest among all provinces in Sri Lanka, the interest by ASSOCHAM is welcome.
However, he also said that Northern Province is one of the two leading provinces in terms of GDP growth with 12.1 percent
“These growth numbers are reported in the northern-province despite some critical issues that the Province is facing such as the lack of industrial and other infrastructure, human resources and skills base, economic and business information, and private sector unwilling to get involved in the Province,” he said.