Sri Lanka businesses say Vietnam embassy needed to boost trade

Chandi Dharmaratne

June 09, 2010 (LBO) – Trade and economic links with Vietnam could grow fast if Hanoi sets up an embassy in Colombo to grease official clearances and visas, Sri Lankan businessmen told a visiting Vietnamese minister. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce formed a Sri Lanka – Vietnam Business Council Tuesday in the presence of visiting Vietnamese deputy trade and industry minister Le Doung Quang.

Deva Rodrigo, past chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said, member firms had said a Vietnamese embassy in Colombo as well as direct air links could strengthen trade links.

Timothy Speldewinde, head of Stretchline, an elastic fabric maker said his group was setting up a factory in central Vietnam but now visas took almost five weeks to clear.

“Setting up an embassy in Sri Lanka is under consideration and we will convey it to higher authorities,” minister Quang said.

Sri Lanka has already set up an embassy in Hanoi.

Following a visit of President Rajapaksa to Vietnam last year, the two countries had set a target of increasing bilateral trade to 100 million US dollars, minister Quang said.

The two countries also had an investment protection agreement and a double taxation deal.

The minister