May 16, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative complements Sri Lanka’s vision as they share the same synergies.
“Sri Lanka plans to use its strategic location and leverage on our connectivity to become the Hub of the Indian Ocean,” Wickremesinghe said.
“Several of these advanced infrastructure projects, including the Hambantota Port, the Mattala airport and the Southern expressway have been carried out with finances from the Chinese institutions such as the Exim Bank.”
Wickremesinghe said the Government has already commenced the development of the three major ports and the two international airports which are all connected by road and rail to the proposed special Economic Zones.
He was speaking at the 2nd session of the leader’s roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation held yesterday in Beijing, China.
“These initiatives will transform Sri Lanka into a shipping, aviation and a logistics hub. Sri Lanka is also focusing on building the hard infrastructure such as the roads, water supply, power supply.”
“Furthermore, Sri Lanka is strengthening financial connectivity by establishing an offshore financial centre in the Port City, which is a Real Estate Development project commenced under the Belt and Road Initiative.”
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka is expanding trade connectivity with EU Journal granting the GSP+ Tariff Concessions.
He said the FTA with India is being deepened and also negotiating FTAs with China and Singapore.
“We have undertaken the restructuring of our economy including financial stabilization, reviewing administrative regulations to cut red tape, lowering tariffs and introducing a simpler tax system.”
“These measures will fully integrate us with the Global Value Chain thereby obtaining the maximum benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”
Prime Minister further stated that the Belt and Road initiative will provide the much needed hard and soft connectivity in the Indian Ocean required for rapid economic and social development.
India however skipped China’s Belt and Road Forum following sovereignty concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Belt and Road initiative is the first economic cooperation arrangement connecting the Eurasian continents.
Combining the high-income economies with the fast growing economies the initiative will create new opportunities for the growth of global trade.
This initiative is proposed by President Xi Jinping and China is providing the initial funding.