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Lankan harbours could be major role players in OBOR

Sri Lankan harbours could play a major role in China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, said Wesley Yang, Head, Financial Markets, Standard Chartered Bank, China.

Sri Lanka has four fully functional ports, in Colombo, Hambantota, Galle and Trincomalee and two more are shaping up in East and North.

“These would put Sri Lanka in a tremendous advantage for the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative.

The fact that Sri Lanka Ports are not too congested too is another advantage for the island,” he said.

He also said that over the past 30 years it was China-Sri Lanka government to government transactions that took place and those too were mainly on infrastructure development.

“These were for landmark projects such as airports, harbours, highway, bridges and other similar projects.”

“However since of late, there is a shift where private companies are investing in real estate and port-related development and in other areas,” Yang said.

Speaking to media at a Standard Chartered Bank organised round table discussion with Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Chinese media he said that they expect this trend to continue in the future as well in a more aggressive manner. Yang also said there has being lot of global focus on both the Asian and African regions and this too is expected to intensify. “Intra-Asia trade too is growing.”

Jim McCabe, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, Sri Lanka, said that the proposed International Financial Centre (IFC) at the Colombo Port City too would be a major attraction for large Chinese and other large banks to have an anchor in the region. “Their operations are not only to Sri Lanka but for the region.”

He also said that in recent times there has being keen investor as well as tourism interest generated from China towards Sri Lanka. “One of the key factors for this is the awareness of Chinese about Sri Lanka. As for the investors the FTAs Sri Lanka has with India and Pakistan and also the proposed FTA with China along with Ease of Doing Business rankings (which could be better) too attract Chinese investors.”

Chinese companies can set up business in Sri Lanka and export to other countries in the region rather than having offices all over the region.

The Standard Chartered Bank too hosted a road show in Hong Kong and here too there was tremendous investor interest on Sri Lanka.

He said that with peace, establishment of rule of law, democracy and less corruption Sri Lanka’s situation is improving and this too helps investors to look at Sri Lanka in a more positive manner. “Sri Lanka needs more FDI,” he stressed.

He also said that Standard Chartered with its long presence in Sri Lanka and also its regional presence has a key role in disbursing of funds to both government as well as the private sector.

“Today we have around 35% retail and 65 corporate customers.”(Daily News)

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