For the first time in Asia, China will sign a Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka. This would be implemented from this November.
Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that this FTA would allow selected Sri Lankan items to be exported to China on 100% zero duty.
“This is a unique and special FTA extended and offered only to Sri Lanka”, he said. Sri Lankan companies could then have the opportunity to export to the large Chinese market thus opening a new era of trade. “Sri Lankan apparel sector is one to benefit first”, he said.
“We are currently preparing the list of items to be included to the FTA and the agreement would be effective before the CHOGM,” he disclosed.
He added that Foreign Direct Investments to the country increased by over 20% in the first half of 2013. Minister Abeywardena said that from January to June 2013 it stood at US$ 540.211 million.
In the first half of 2013, most investments were in the infrastructure sector, totaling $ 284.2 million, followed by $ 174.36 million for manufacturing, $ 79.1 million for services and $ 2.6 million for agriculture.
The single largest investment was the Colombo International Container Terminal, a Chinese/Hong Kong project that represented an investment of $ 116.2 million.
This project was followed by the investments by Cairn Lanka Pvt Ltd, from UK/Mauritius ($ 29.4 million) and MAS Fabric Pvt Ltd, from Hong Kong ($ 25.5 million) large scale projects approved by Cabinet.
Another major investment was the Waterfront Properties Pvt Ltd, by the John Keells Group which is a mixed development project. The total value of the project will be US$ 850 million and would create 3,000 direct employment opportunities.
Lake Leisure Holdings Pvt Ltd project is the second major project that was also approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and also operating under the Strategic Development Act.
This is to be located at D. R. Wijewardene Mawatha and would become an integrated resort, with an investment value of US$ 350 million and would generate 2,600 direct employment opportunities and many more indirect jobs.
Both projects would be completed in 60 months.
The Minister also inaugurated a new online application system in the BOI website which is in operational now. Investors can apply online to start projects in the Section 17 category, which were the projects that operate under the BOI law and represent about 90% of all applications.
The application by the investor can be accepted online, prior to the final approval. Other features include a payment gateway to handle online payments for application fees.
“Sri Lanka was placed second after Poland among the countries that had made the most improvements in the field of business friendliness.”