Japan yesterday offered assistance to boost Sri Lanka's tourism industry and materialize a free-trade deal between the two countries.
Japan's Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Minoru Kiuchi, who visited the island last week, has assured that steps will be taken to assist Sri Lanka to boost the island's booming tourism industry and to launch projects to produce industrial goods.
Co-chairing the sixth meeting of the Japan-Sri Lanka Government-Private Joint Forum co-with Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, on Friday (13) in Colombo Kiuchi has also expressed hope that the two countries could focus attention on formulating a free trade policy relating to selected export items and service.
Participating in the bilateral trade conference with the representatives from the Japan Chamber of Commerce, the visiting Minister has commended the progress Sri Lanka has achieved with Japan's assistance in the areas of agriculture, industries, information technology and mass communications, power and water resources and in developing infrastructure facilities.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa presided over the conference with the participation of Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Industry and Commerce Ministry Secretary Anura Siriwardena and other senior officials.
Kiuchi's two-day visit to Colombo was a follow-up to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Tokyo in March this year and to the visit of Deputy Prime Minister of Japan and Minister of Finance, Taro Aso to Sri Lanka in May this year.
Addressing the conference Minister Rajapaksa has said that Sri Lanka's eco-friendly environment has attracted an increasing number of foreign investors during the past several years and the facilities they require have been provided in accordance with the regulations of the Chamber of Commerce. Sri Lanka's correct procedure on taxation and related matters had helped to commence production in a short time, Minister Rajapaksa has pointed out.
The Sri Lankan Minister has appreciated the assistance Japan had given for developing the tourism industry in helping to restore the Hamilton Canal and other such projects.
He has indicated to the Japanese delegation that Sri Lanka hopes to increase exports of green tea, ornamental fish and cut flowers to Japan and expects Japan's assistance in formulating a free trade policy.
Dr. Jayasundera has expressed the government's appreciation for the assistance Japan has given in among others building a television network, port development, constructing the Jaya Dock Yard, power plants, expressways, bridges, launching drinking water projects, constructing the Sigiriya Museum.
Japanese Ambassador in Sri Lanka Nobuhito Hobo, BOI Chairman Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera, representatives of leading Japanese companies and high ranking Japanese government officials also attended the conference.