* if business environment improves, says US Embassy official
The Island September 6, 2012, 8:34 pm
By Mario Andree
With Asia emerging as the economic centre after the global financial crisis, US investors are increasingly eyeing this part of the world for better opportunities, US Embassy in Sri Lanka Charge de Affairs William Weinstein said. However, he said Sri Lanka needs to work hard on improving its business climate, which was not friendly enough to attract US investments.
With several bilateral discussions ongoing to promote economic partnership there were several policy measures needed to be adopted by Sri Lanka, he said.
According to him investment to Sri Lanka had lagged for 30 years and with the end of the civil conflict in early 2009 several opportunities were available to promote economic relationships.
He said many major companies in the US have shown interest to invest in Sri Lanka, however the government here needed to ensure a more business friendly climate.
To mark the 20th Anniversary of the American Chamber Commerce, the chamber yesterday announced plans to conduct a US trade fair which is expected attract 26 top US businesses and could provide Sri Lanka a window of opportunity. The ‘US Trade Show 2012’ will be held on September 16 at Hilton Colombo.
Weinstein, said there were several issues in the recent past which held back the US from strengthening economic ties between the two countries.
The trade between the two countries have been in favour of Sri Lanka with exports to the US amounting to US$ 2.09 billion while imports were at US$ 302.7 million last year, for the first six months of 2012 exports to US was US$ 1.15 billion while imports were at US$ 109.7 million.
AmCham President Vijaya Ratnayake said that the chamber was promoting investment to Sri Lanka and announced a loan facility of up to US$ 250 million provided to both US investors and Sri Lankan companies of which a 35 percent stake is being held by a US based partner. According to him, eight applications are currently being processed for the special loan scheme which was at a very low interest rate.