Fernando says BRI benefited Sri Lanka

By Staff Reporter
Monday – December 9, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Sri Lankan tourism minister Arundika Fernando, on Friday, expressed the full support of the government of Sri Lanka to strengthen and enhance China - South Asia cooperation and added that the cooperation between China and Sri Lanka under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not only brought tangible benefits to the two countries and two peoples, but also generated new opportunities for regional development.

According to an official statement, he stated that under the China-proposed BRI, Sri Lanka is witnessing the construction of the mega Port City in capital Colombo and the development of the Hambantota Port and Industrial Park in southern Sri Lanka, and these projects are expected to become the new powerful engines for the Sri Lankan economy to take-off.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) chamber of commerce and industry (CCI) president Ruwan Edirisinghe mentioned that industrial investment is a major area for increasing China-South Asia cooperation. He added that baring India, South Asia has a sluggish pace of industrialisation.

Edirisinghe expressed his concerns on growing China SAARC trade imbalances. He stated that the volume of trade between China and South Asia in general is growing and China has become the major trade partner for South Asian countries.

He mentioned that relative to the economic scale and the opening degree of China and South Asia, the trade volume between them is low, and there is a problem of trade structural imbalance. He also invited Chinese industries to relocate their manufacturing facilities into South Asian countries and enjoy the discounts offered to SAARC region by the world.

China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Yunnan Sub-Council Vice Chairman Hao Yishan said that, there is a huge demand for infrastructure and investment in South Asian countries which involve power, communications, transport and many other fields.

According to him, economic trade between China and South Asian countries has maintained an upward momentum in recent years, with imports and exports exceeding $140 billion in 2018, up 10.5 percent year-on-year.

SAARC CCI former president Macky Hashim while chairing the meeting recollected that that it was an honour for him to be a part of the inaugural meeting 14 years ago. He added that the corporate leaders of China and South Asia laid a firm foundation for a greater cooperation between China and South Asian countries.

SAARC CCI senior vice president Iftikhar Ali Malik in his address said that, the prospect of deeper economic integration between China and the SAARC nations carries vast scale of potential opportunities. Together, SAARC and China account for approximately a third of the global population. Therefore, successful integration will generate mutual gains for both regions in terms of reducing wide spread poverty, increasing trade in the region and people to people connectivity through enhance cooperation.

SAARC CCI president Daru Khan said that it is widely acknowledged that the contemporary economies cannot be possible without strengthening cooperation. He added that China can trigger socio-economic development of the South Asian countries while collaboration of Chinese expertise and technology with the natural and human resources of South Asia can create the accelerated synergy for fast track economic progress.

Federation of Bangladesh senior vice rresident CCIs Muntakim Ashraf, stated that the regional infrastructure development initiatives taken by China will help developing industries and transforming the present economic landscape of South Asia as well as Bangladesh.

He requested the Chinese and South Asian investors to explore Bangladeshi industrial potentials with their vast experience on industrial development. He emphasised that Bangladesh is positive about the fact that the seamless connectivity through BRI will ensure enhanced business exchange, reduce trade costs and facilitate access to a wider variety of goods within the region.

He mentioned that Bangladesh looks forward to working together with China and South Asian friends for trade, investment and knowledge exchange in the proposed areas within the BRI framework.

The China - South Asia Business Council Meeting (CSABCM) was successfully concluded in Negombo, Sri Lanka, organised by SAARC CCI, being a collaborative partner to China South Asia Business Forum (CSABF), scheduled to be held in June, 2020 in Kunming, China.

The meeting was held in partnership with CCPIT Yunnan Sub Council and Federation of CCIs in Sri Lanka.

During the preparatory meeting, the delegates mainly focused on the theme of 15th CSABF, key priorities, implementation and institutional mechanisms for policy effectiveness, briefing on the 6th China-South Asia Expo, and path for launching China-South Asia Enterprise Cooperation Database. The delegates also agreed upon a theme for 15th CSABF, “Sharing Prosperity through Industrialisation in South Asia”.

Sri Lankan tourism minister Arundika Fernando graced the occasion as the chief guest of the meeting. Bangladesh high commissioner Riaz Hamidullah Nepal embassy third secretary Balakrishna Bandari, SAARC CCI president Ruwan Edirisinghe, SAARC CCI past president Macky Hashim,

SAARC CCI Senior Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik, CCPIT Yunnan Sub-Council Vice Chairman Hao Yishan, Foreign Agency Service Division Director He Tao, Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Yunnan Province Zhou Wanchun, president of International Sales and Marketing, presidents and vice presidents of national chambers of South Asian countries, government officials, and business leaders from China and South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) took part at the meeting.