Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Jan 05, 2004
Industry & Economy
Sri Lanka invites Indian investments in SMEs
Mangalore , Jan. 4
THE Sri Lankan Government is seeking investments by Indians in small and medium enterprises (SME) sector of that country.
Participating in the interactive meeting with entrepreneurs of Mangalore, organised by the Kanara Small Industries Association (KSIA) here, the Sri Lankan Minister of Industries, Mr Rohita Bogollagama, termed the SME sector as the "livewire" of Sri Lankan economy, and said that his country was interested in industrial cooperation with India, especially in SMEs.
Referring to the recent meeting with his Indian counterpart, Mr Arun Jaitely, he said that their mission is to promote linkage to enhance economic development of India and Sri Lanka.
On export and import activities between Sri Lanka and India, the Minister said that exports from Sri Lanka to India stood at $160 million in 2003. Lanka's imports from India reached $850 million during that period.
He said that 77 per cent of Sri Lankan exports are from industrial sector and 13 per cent from tea sector. There has been a gradual shift in its export commodities with leather sector gaining importance here. Though, two years ago, export of apparels was contributing to 67 per cent of export from Sri Lanka, now the thrust is on leather sector, which has seen three per cent increase in its export volumes in the past two years. Today, apparel sector contributes 51 per cent of exports from Sri Lanka, he said.
The Lankan Government has taken a decision to approach SMEs in cities such as Mangalore, West Bengal, and north Delhi than merely concentrating on metros in India, he added.
Mr Bogollagama said, "Sri Lanka is a country of opportunities as much as India is a country of strength".
He substantiated his views by seeking investments in sectors ranging from higher education to banking and transport sector, and explaining about their potentialities.
He urged Indian education institutions, especially those in coastal Karnataka, to set up higher education institutions in his country. According to him, this will give a boost to tertiary education in Sri Lanka.
Though Sri Lanka is on par with India in hospitality sector, there is scope for Indians to develop boutique and holiday hotels and explore the potential of the region. Indian entrepreneurs could also think of setting up day-catering units in Sri Lanka, he added.
In the banking sector, though State Bank of India and Indian Bank have their branches in Sri Lanka, other nationalised, cooperative and private banks could make inroads there, the Minister said.
India could be a good sourcing base for Sri Lanka in transport sector as the latter wants to rehabilitate nearly 4,000 of its buses.Mr Bogollagama said that investments were also welcome in areas such as activities associated with fisheries and cashew processing units.
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