Safe Deal

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

. 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 c