Sri Lanka and China, on Saturday declared open the ‘Sri Lanka,China Logistics and Industrial Zone Office’ in Hambantota, in the southern coast of the island country which will overlook the work of a 15,000 acre Industrial Zone.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at the launch said that this zone would transform Sri Lanka into an important trading and logistics hub and would soon attract mega investments into the Hambantota area. Wickremesinghe said that the launch of this Office was an important milestone in the strong ties shared between Sri Lanka and China and the Sri Lankan government looked forward to making the Industrial Zone a reality.
“All this time we did the talking, in Colombo and in Beijing. Now we are glad to note that the Logistics hub has become a reality and we will begin work,” Wickremesinghe said. “When the plans discussed are implemented, it will mean there will be a major economic transformation in Hambantota. More investments will come in and this will lead to the industrialization of a once backward area,” he added.
Commending the support which China had always shown Sri Lanka, Wickremesighe said Sri Lanka would soon be transformed into a hub in the Indian Ocean where large volumes of trade takes place and the government looked forward to more Chinese investments. He added Sri Lanka was opening up to many markets after regaining the GSP Plus trade facility from the European Union and was also negotiating an FTA with China and Singapore. He said Sri Lanka had also agreed to participate in China’s One Belt One Road initiative which would strengthen connectivity not only between China and Europe but would also improve connectivity in the entire Asian region. “All this is the beginning of a new chapter in the Indian Ocean and I believe Sri Lanka will also become a transitional point for China soon,” he said.
The Government Agent of Hambantota, W.H. Karunarathne speaking at the opening said that the proposed Economic Zone would strengthen the Sri Lankan economy and would also create many jobs. “Hambantota is a district with a agricultural based economy including livestock and fisheries. Nevertheless the climate here remains a challenge for the agricultural sector. Hence in order to move forward we have to focus on setting up industries which will be suitable for the climate culture and the economy of this country,” Karunarathne said. He explained that Hambantota was already rich as it had a sea port and an international airport and youth were being trained with the support of the Sri Lankan and Chinese governments.
China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang said that the opening of the Economic Zone Office was an important step as many CEOs from China and other countries had already expressed interest in investing in the Zone. “Every week atleast two to three CEOs came to me with the possibility of investing in the Hambantota Zone. Now I i will tell them just go to Hambantota and speak to the people in the Office,” he said. Yi said in the coming 5 years, Sri Lanka would receive at least 5 billion dollars worth of investments in the area and the Chinese CEOs would invest respecting Sri Lankan laws, the environment and wildlife in the area. (newsin.asia)