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Mon, 22 September 2014 21:13:56
Sri Lanka seeks investment protection agreement with Maldives
12 Feb, 2007 21:02:40
February 12 (LBO) – Sri Lanka wants an investment protection agreement with the Maldive Islands, visiting Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse said, while calling for expansion of bi-lateral trade and joint action on tourism.
Sri Lanka's top business conglomerates, such as John Keells and Aitken Spence have been investing heavily in resorts in the Maldives.

Profits from the atoll resorts have helped keep the leisure sectors of the firms in the black.

President Rajapakse said Sri Lanka has a skilled work-force which could strengthen Maldivian tourism sector.

"We have the potential, in our skilled work force, to fulfill the much-needed skilled manpower Maldives demands, especially in the hospitality trade," Rajapakse said in the official text of his speech released in Colombo.

Sri Lanka exports fresh fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products as well as processed food items and tea, textiles and clothing and ceramic and plastics products to the Maldives.

In 2005, exports stood at US dollars 24.76 million US dollars and the imports at US 21.09 million US dollars.

"Further, the business communities of both our countries are looking forward to venturing into new areas of cooperation for further strengthening of the existing economic relations," Rajapakse said.

"Globalization provides us with both opportunities and challenges in our pursuit of development. The policy of my Government is to integrate the positive aspects of free market economy with our own aspirations," he said.

President Rajapakse said many Asian countries that lagged behind at the time of Sri Lanka's independence were now ahead.

Last year the Maldives greeted 601 million tourists compared with 559 for Sri Lanka.

In 2006 the Maldives economy grew by a blistering 18.2 percent after shrinking y 4.5 percent after the Asian tsunami.

Consumer inflation was 3.7 percent, while Sri Lanka is estimated to have grown by 7 percent and consumer inflation was 19.3 percent in 2006.

Maldives has the highest per capita GDP in South Asia at 2295 US dollars, compared 1188 dollars for Sri Lanka in 2005.

In 2006 Maldivian per capita GDP is estimated to have grown to 2668 dollars and it is projected to grow to 2946 dollars in 2007.

The islands need foreign labour to run its booming low-inflation economy.

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