The manufacturing investment zone, is due to come up in Sri Lanka’s eastern seaport district of in Trincomalee, visiting Indian Commerce, Industry and Textile minister Ananda Sharma told reporters in Colombo.
“We have agreed to establish a manufacturing investment zone to manufacture engineering, auto parts for exports to India,” Sharma said on the sidelines of an India Show that opened in Colombo.
A bilateral taskforce is being formed to begin work on the zone, with the Indian delegation being named shortly. Sri Lanka will also name its representatives which will include officials from industries related to pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, infrastructure and tourism.
He said the manufacturing zone was thought of in the spirit of partnership.
“In the spirit of partnership we would like to create opportunities in Sri Lanka for value addition, which could be linked to manufacturing in India,” Minister Sharma said.
He said the total value of investment into the zone has not been finalised yet, but that it would be “big”.
The taskforce is expected to complete its report within three months.
Bilateral trade between both countries reached about five billion dollars by end of 2011 and minister Sharma said there was scope to double trade within the next five years.
“India is Sri Lanka’s fifth largest foreign investor. Trade between both countries have grown tremendously over the years due to the free trade agreement between both countries,” Sharma said.
He said India remained a competitive global leader in the pharmaceutical industry and was committed to share its expertise with Sri Lanka to manufacture drugs at affordable prices.
During meetings with Sri Lanka’s Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapakse, Minister of Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen and Minister of International Monetary Cooperation Sarath Amunugama, Sharma agreed to begin work on setting up a pharmaceutical hub in Sri Lanka.
He said a business delegation representing Indian pharmaceutical companies will arrive in Sri Lanka within 30 days to begin work.
“We are global leaders in many fields including pharmaceuticals. We are global leaders in high quality generics. We have ensured not only affordable health care but access to life saving drugs at affordable prices,” Sharma said. The South Asian neighbours also agreed to set up a mechanism to improve skills of people in Sri Lanka. Sharma is leading a group of over 200 Indian businessmen to Colombo for the third India Show in Sri Lanka, to showcase a vast range of goods and services that India businessmen can offer to their counterparts in Sri Lanka. This is the third India Show in Sri Lanka, after similar successive interactions in 2003 and 2005. Some 108 Indian companies are showcasing a wide range of products and services, including automobile, engineering, infrastructure, tourism, food processing, ICT, financial services, pharmaceuticals and education at Colombo’s Bandaranaika Memorial International Conference Hall.