We need to position our country: Harsha de Silva  


Aug 02, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s deputy minister of foreign affairs says that as a nation we need to ease rules and attract investment and build confidence on the global platform.

“The wide global audience has not received the Sri Lankan message that we are ready for investment,” Harsha de Silva, deputy foreign affairs minister told reporters in Colombo. “This is the challenge, to position ourselves.”

He was speaking at the Oxford Business Group report launch, Sri Lanka 2016 in Colombo Monday evening. He says that redefining identity as an Indian Ocean region country will help the move forward.

“We are redefining our identity. We need get out of the South Asian nation and be known as an Indian Ocean country. Let it be known that we are located in the pathways between Africa, Australia and the rest of Asia and that we are the link.”

Sri Lanka is a crucial node to push forward China’s Belt Road Initiative, given its strategic position in the Indian Ocean.

The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a significant development strategy launched by the Chinese government with the intention of promoting economic co-operation among countries along the proposed Belt and Road routes.

The Initiative will enhance the orderly free flow of economic factors and the efficient allocation of resources while also furthering market integration.

The Chinese government has requested for 15,000 acres of land in Hambantota for a special economic zone that will create around one million job in this area.

Speaking at a recent press conference, Advisor for the Agency for International Trade K.J. Weerasinghe said that even though a special economic zone has been proposed in Hambantota, it will not be exclusive to Chinese investors. Other countries including India, Japan and Singapore have expressed interest in starting ventures in this area.

Opening up can bring more opportunities for Sri Lanka, de Silva said.

“I see clear opportunity by creating a logistics hub status for Sri Lanka or Colombo,” he added.