Malaysia has come forward to introduce its successful industrialization model to the island nation, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.
Malaysia's Special Envoy of Infrastructure for India and South Asia attached to Prime Minister's Office, Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu has suggested introducing the successful Malaysian model and renewing bilateral trade when he called on Minister Bathiudeen in Colombo Thursday.
"The 12 national Industrial Parks we created in Malaysia are successful. We intend to introduce the same model to Sri Lanka as well. It is time that we also renew bilateral trade, apart from the strong investment bonds that we already have," said the Malaysian Special Envoy who is currently leading a Malaysian delegation to Colombo.
During the meeting Special Envoy Vellu has expressed interest in investing in the construction of the Northern expressway.
"We are bidding for Northern Highway on BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) basis. We want to do a good job if we get it," the envoy said.
He said Malaysia is interested in partnering on "Government to Government (G2G)" projects, having experience in doing similar projects in Bangladesh and India.
"We can jointly identify new industrial sectors and create industrial parks in Sri Lanka with our partnership," Special envoy Vellu added.
He noted that one reason the 12 national Industrial Parks created in Malaysia are successful is that the parks are also equipped with housing and social infrastructure for the people employed in the industrial parks including housing, sanitation and water.
"We intend to introduce the same model to Sri Lanka as well! The industrial layout needs to describe not only the types of industries to be set up but the social and community infrastructure as well. This is how we started industrializing the Malaysian economy," the Malaysian envoy emphasized.
Minister Bathiudeen, responding to Special Envoy Vellu, said the President Maithripala Sirisena's vision of development is inclusive of industrial and exports promotion.
Sri Lanka welcomes investments from Malaysia for infrastructure which is a designated 'targeted investment sector', the Minister told the special envoy. Other sectors Sri Lanka is seeking Malaysian investments are tourism & recreation BPO/ IT & IT enabled services, education, electronic & electrical equipment manufacturing, and rubber based manufacturing.
Minister Bathiudeen said his Ministry already operates 27 industrial parks across the country and Sri Lanka is especially keen for investments and partnerships for the newest zones.
Some new zones are also being planned in other areas with the aim of taking industries from beyond the Western Province to the rest of the country, the Minister told the envoy.
"Malaysian investors can invest here and access the massive Indian and Pakistan markets on more than 8500 products through our FTAs with these two markets. And most of the products you manufacture could be used as inputs in our manufacturing processes," Minister Bathiudeen pointed out.
Among the well-known Malaysian investments in Sri Lanka are Dialog Axiata, Merbok Mdf Lanka, Lion Brewery (Ceylon), Hemas Hospitals, Dankotuwa Porcelain, Sunshine Ventures, and APIIT Lanka Ltd.
To-date Malaysia ranks first among the countries that have invested in Sri Lanka through Board of Investment (BOI), according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Realized total FDI from Malaysian projects exceeds US$ 1.28 Billion by third quarter of 2014. Annual FDI flow to Sri Lanka from Malaysia almost quadrupled in 2013 (from 2012) to $176.2 million.
The Malaysian envoy has also expressed interest in strengthening the bilateral trade between the two countries.
"It is time that we also renew bilateral trade, apart from the strong investment bonds that we already have. Of course, South Asia is a massive zone of people and Sri Lanka is lucky to sit so closely to this huge market," special envoy Vellu has remarked.
Trade between Sri Lanka and Malaysia has been increasing over the last few years and Malaysia has emerged as one of Sri Lanka's major trading partners, ColomboPage has learnt.
Sri Lanka's bilateral trade with Malaysia increased by 31% to US$ 757.2 million in 2014 from US$ 577.66 million in 2013.
Natural rubber & rubber based products (tires, gloves etc.), precious stones and semi-precious stones ,tea, fish, intimate apparel, clothing, jewellery, food preparations, unmanufactured tobacco, and mineral sands are some of the export items.