Sri Lanka asked to set up an industrial zones by China: Port City is not enough

Apr 01, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka asked to set up an industrial zone with the partnership of China since the Chinese funded port city only will not help developing the Island, Yi Xianliang, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sri Lanka was quoted as saying in a media release.

He also hinted on loan possibilities in this regard, industry and commerce ministry said in a release.
“A port city is not enough to develop Lankan industries! “Yi Xianliang said.

“To develop Lanka – China manufacturing cooperation, we would like to build some industrial zones in Sri Lanka with direct Chinese support and partnership,”

“At this moment Hambanthota and North have good infrastructure for this. We suggest you to have some loans.”

He was addressing Minister of Industry and Commerce Bathiudeen and top officials at export development board.

Xianliang said if Sri Lanka is going to depend only on services and agriculture, industry sector within gross domestic product will not develop despite its big potential.
In 2013, 57 percent of Lanka’s GDP consisted of service sector, 11 percent for agriculture and 32 percent for industry sector data showed.

As for manufacturing, almost a quarter of Lankan annual industry value addition originates from “food, beverages and tobacco. Apparels & leather contributes 10 percent while rubber, plastics & chemical products’ sector contributes 10 percent.

“I believe that we have to develop our future trade through industrial zone partnerships which will draw more FDI from China to Sri Lanka,” he said.

“For example, the first Chinese economic zone of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Model (SEZM) industrial development story and see its manufacturing strength shown today,”

“This would be the type of partnership model we are looking at,”

“We propose to set up some industrial zones in Sri Lanka with our partnership for you to reap this unrealised potential.”

Starting as a village of 10000 people around 30 years ago, today the Special Economic Zone Model (SEZM) of Shenzhen city, alone reports GDP exceeding 260 billion dollars becoming the fourth largest economic power within China.

Xianliang said, these type of initiatives will help to boost bilateral trade between the two countries while it pushes to finalize free trade agreement between Sri Lanka and China.

The total trade between Sri Lanka and China which stood at 658.94 million US dollars in 2005 has increased by more than five-fold to 3.58 billion US dollars by 2014.

Imports to Sri Lanka constituted of 3.4 billion US dollars in 2014.

Raw coconut fibre (coir), apparel, tea and tobacco were Sri Lanka’s top exports to China in 2014, taking together more than 58 percent of Lanka’s exports.

“This form of industrial and economic zone based cooperation is one way we can develop our future bilateral relations,” Xianliang said.

“I am confident that this could be done. We also have to make our best efforts to finalise the China-Sri Lanka FTA, if possible before the end of this year. This can boost bilateral trade greatly.”

He said, following historic Sino-Lanka relations as a model, the Indian Ocean Island would focus on developing the coastal cities in the Island.

“You need to develop coastal cities of Sri Lanka according to the Chinese experience,” Xianliang said.

“We developed more than 30 coastal cities that lifted our trade and development.”