Influence Tussle

Nov 29, 2010 (LBO) – Indian investors will be encouraged to invest in southern Sri Lanka where China has built a new port, according to remarks by India’s foreign minister, as both countries vie for influence on the island. Visiting Indian Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna said India’s decision to set up a consulate in southern Hambantota will help improve its links with the region in trade and commerce, investments, culture and tourism.

“I am confident that India will take advantage of the industrial and commercial potential in and around Hambantota,” he said at the opening of the consulate.

“We would encourage our private sector to participate in Hambantota’s development by seizing the opportunities for investments.”

A new deep-water port built by Chinese contractors and with loans from China was opened earlier this month in Hambantota, which is only a few miles from the main East-West shipping route across the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka Ports Authority is currently evaluating proposals from investors, including Indian firms, for projects in an industrial zone at the port.

China’s involvement in the port as well as its increasing presence in the island through loans and investments in power