‘New Business Silk Road to Qingdao’ Business and Networking Event held on Friday by Sri Lanka China Business Council
- On May 15, 2015
High-level officials in the Political and business spheres from Qingdao city in the People’s Republic of China were hosted by the Sri Lanka-China Business Council (SLCHBC) at a business and networking event titled ‘New Business Silk Road to Qingdao at the Taj Samudra Hotel on Friday, 15th May.
The Director-General of the Bureau of Commerce of Qindao Mr.MA Weigang and SLCHBC, President Mr. Navindra Abeyesekera signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the main focus on fortifying both parties’ commitment to exchanging information relating to trade and investment cooperation with regards to opportunities for joint ventures between Sri Lankan and Chinese companies. There were over 20 individuals representing 15 of Qingdao’s top Corporate establishments.
The delegation identified sectors such as Shipping and Port Development, Education, Tourism, Construction, Fisheries, Rubber Products, Consumer Electronics and Home Appliances and many more areas that they hoped to develop in collaboration with existing and potential Sri Lankan companies. These thoughts were echoed by SLCHBC President Mr. Navindra Abeysekera, who in his speech at the start of the event, expressed the hope that the delegation would first find reasons to love Sri Lanka, in order to form strong partnerships built on a firm foundation, citing its natural beauty, resources, heritage and wildlife as examples. He went on to say that Sri Lanka’s geographical location is another advantage for joint ventures for exports, as the country is situated roughly in the centre of Africa and Asia, making it ‘one of the biggest countries for exports.
“If we could explore the possibility of setting up ventures with Chinese companies and look at exporting to the South Asian region, the potential is enormous,” Abeyesekera said. Sri Lanka can currently reach 1.25 billion people who are based in India through Sri Lanka and India Free Trade agreement and 185 million people through Sri Lanka – Pakistan FTA this is equal to 25% of the World’s Population. By virtue of the privileges in the said two agreements, Sri Lanka can export more than 4,000 product lines to both India and Pakistan on a duty free basis he went on to say.
The Chairman of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI), Mr Upul Jayasuriya, also backed these statements, confirming that the government wholeheartedly welcomes Chinese investments to Sri Lanka. He reiterated the dedication to this relationship, saying ‘Sri Lanka is committed to promoting Chinese businesses here’ and allayed fears about the future of these investments, stating that ‘if there are instances where there may have been some misunderstanding, we will put the matters into right perception and proceed into the future with the typical legal framework.’ Mr. Jayasuriya ended by stating that ‘China’s friendship is valued and appreciated by Sri Lanka.’
Deputy Minister of Highways and Investment Promotion in Sri Lanka, Honorable Eran Wickramaratne emphasized the strong historical and cultural bonds between Sri Lanka and China in his speech, dating back to the Rubber-Rice Pact signed on December 18th, 1952. The Rubber-Rice Pact was the first trade agreement signed by China with a non-Communist country, and since then, this mutually beneficial relationship has translated into investment in energy, infrastructure and technology as China has turned into Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner in Asia. The Hon. Deputy Minister further stated that beyond business and trade, Sri Lanka and China have a strong internal link due to the traditional role of Buddhism in both countries.