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Attract 1% annual Chinese tourism, FDIs for Lanka’s rapid growth: envoy

24 November 2015 02:37 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Sri Lanka should strive to attract one percent of the annual Chinese tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI) outflows for rapid development of the country, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Yi Xianliang said.

“If Sri Lanka can get just one percent of the tourists and FDIs, then it is good for the country’s development. China is ready. Is Sri Lanka ready?” he posed the challenge to the Sri Lankan government and private sector.

He was speaking at China (Zhejiang) Investment and Trade Symposium 2015 organised by the China Council for Promotion of International Trade Zhejiang Provincial Committee and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), in the presence of Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen.

“In 2014, 128 million Chinese travelled abroad, and China invested US $ 123 billion in other countries,” Li added.

From January to October 2015, 182,110 Chinese tourists arrived in Sri Lanka, compared to 106,888 tourists for the same period in 2014.
The largest Chinese FDI of US $ 1.4 billion for the Colombo Port City in 2014 ran into some hot waters this year, but the new Sri Lankan government has said that it will be continued, while Chinese companies are now interested in investing in port services in the Hambantota Harbour, according to the Board of Investment.

While the previous regime had alienated the Western world in favour of a closer relationship with China, the new government recently said that it would pursue a Western-aligned foreign policy, since most of Sri Lanka’s exports are to the US and the European Union.

However, Li said that there have only been improvements in the bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and China.

“We have seen no change in co-operation with Sri Lanka since the elections in January. Actually the relationship has strengthened both politically and economically,” he said.

The bilateral trade between the two countries are in favour of China, with US $ 3.42 billion imports to Sri Lanka, which exported US $ 174 million in 2014, compared to US $ 2.96 billion and US $ 122 million, respectively in 2013, CCC CEO/Secretary General Mangala Yapa said.
“We need both the government and the private sector to co-operate to increase bilateral trade and tourism between the two countries,” he said.
He added that Sri Lanka can take lessons from Chinese global giants such as Alibaba and Tencent to improve the country’s e-commerce industry.

Meanwhile, Li said that the biggest impediment seen by Chinese companies seeking to invest in Sri Lanka is that a large portion of Sri Lanka’s labour force travels abroad in search of employment, depriving the investors of a sufficiently qualified labour pool.

Sri Lanka is now a location for neither cheap labour similar to Bangladesh or Myanmar, nor high-tech labour similar to Malaysia and Singapore, in the immediate geographical region.
 
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