The government yesterday declared the sea ports of Colombo and Hambantota as free ports, in a bid to woo mega investments while bolstering regional and international trade.
Further, a gazzette issued by the Ministry of Finance and Planning envisages the Katunayake Export Processing Zone, Koggala Export Processing Zone and Mattala International Airport as bonded areas.
This is line with the Finance Act No 12 of 2012 which specifies declaring Free Port bonded areas.
"The enterprises which will be benefited from this arrangement will be entreport trade involving import minor processing and re-export, off-shore business where goods can be procured from one country or manufactured in one country and shipped to another country without bringing them to Sri Lanka," Finance and Planning said in a release.
Provisions of front and services to clients aborad, operations of the header quarters of the lending buyers, logistic services are also will covered by the regulations by the gazetted as Commercial Hub Regulations No 1 of 2013.
The minimum investment of a new enterprise which is engaged in business activities mentioned above should be US$ 5 million.
These companies are expected to achieve an annual re-export turnover of not less than US$ 20 million over a period of five years. If the business is engaging in logistic services such as a bonded warehouse or in the cases of operation multi-country consolidation in Sri Lanka the minimum investment will be US$ 3 million.
The movement of goods to and from a Free Port is subjected to the Customs Ordinance and Imports and Exports Control Act. The country of origin certificate issued by the Department of Commerce will be made available for enterprises located in the free ports or bonded areas. "These regulations are expected to bring revolutionary changes to the trade and investment policies of the country."
As outlined in the Mahinda Chinthana policy framework these measures will be open up new avenues for Sri Lanka to connect with the other world economies and attain a higher growth rate deploying more and more foreign investments, the Ministry further said.