Interview: Sri Lanka needs to be brave and open up, says Harsha


Feb 03, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs said that closing boarders in fear will not help small countries like Sri Lanka to move forward.

“Look at Vietnam they are opening up and signing the Trans Pacific Partnership – they brought in close to 15 billion dollars in foreign direct investments alone last year and Sri Lanka barely managed a billion,” Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs told Lanka Business Online.

“Opening up has helped Singapore, Hong Kong and is also helping the newly emerging Eastern European nations. You have to move away from this mentality of fear; we are supposed to be brave people,” he said.

Vietnam’s 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,”

“We can’t be a manufacturing hub like Vietnam and they can never be a logistics hub – If we get it right we will be ‘the’ logistics hub and to be this we need to link with a manufacturing hub.”

Colombo port is one of the busiest ports in the world, de Silva said and can play an important role in this context as can the newly established Hambantota Port.

“They can be a vital base of maritime transportation.”

Data shows that in 1990 Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Vietnam were all at the 2 billion US dollar export mark while now Sri Lanka is at 12.5 billion, Vietnam has crossed the 100 billion dollar mark and Bangladesh is touching 50 billion dollars.