Sri Lanka is now trying to fast track its trade with China through the world’s most globalised economy –Hong Kong. “There is vast, unrealised trade potential between Hong Kong and Sri Lanka, which we need to explore jointly. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council with its vast network is an ideal partner for Sri Lankan companies to explore partnership opportunities with the Chinese market,” said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka.
Bathiudeen was addressing the seminar on ‘Fast Track to Expand Business with China and International Markets via Hong Kong’ on 13 March at King’s Court, Cinnamon Lakeside, organised by the EDB. More than 200 Sri Lankan firms took part in this session jointly organised with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). Benjamin Chau, Deputy Executive Director, Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Loretta Wan, Regional Director, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, represented the HKTDC.
The arrival of Hong Kong based Shangri-La hotels to Sri Lanka is now well known. Hong Kong is the second most globalised economy according to Ernst & Young and is Sri Lanka’s 19th trading partner in terms of exports, which stood at $ 105 million in 2012. The bilateral trade between both countries has been fluctuating and in 2012, it reported $ 689.33 million.
“Apparel, gems and tea are our main exports. We also believe that there is vast, unrealised trade potential, between the two countries, which we need to jointly explore. Today’s seminar is an important step in this direction and I am pleased to see strong participation from Sri Lanka’s private sector as well,” Bathiudeen said.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that the EDB is making arrangements to participate at the ‘Hong Kong Houseware Show 2013’ for the first time. This show is a leading trade fair organised by the HKTDC,” Minister Bathiudeen added, and said: “Hong Kong is also ranked as a top international investor in Sri Lanka and a globalised financial centre. Many leading Hong Kong companies operating in Sri Lanka such as Avic International, Hutchison and Crystal Martin Far East are global leaders in apparels, electronics, financials and tourism.
He added that currently, 63 Honk Kong projects are in operation under the BoI, with an investment value of $ 120 million. “We believe that we can leverage the globalised ‘financial centre expertise’ of Hong Kong to strengthen our financial and investment sectors, so that our sector can expand to world class levels. To this end I am pleased to reveal that during my recent visit to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Germany, which is another globalised centre, the official spokesman of the exchange informed us that they are pleased about the high standards of Sri Lanka’s financial and banking infrastructure, which has great potential to make the country an international financial hub. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is the most advanced exchange in the euro zone.”
“China will take over the US as the leading economy in future,” said Benjamin Chau, Deputy Executive Director, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, addressing the event. “It is no longer the ‘World’s Factory’ but is becoming a consumer economy as well. Within five hours, you can reach half of the world’s population from Hong Kong ports and airports. Hong Kong is your gateway to the complex and bureaucratic Chinese market. You can avoid these complications by entering through Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also the most popular location for global businesses ahead of Singapore, London and Shanghai. Also, we have strong intellectual property protection unlike China,” he added.
Anura Siriwardene, Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Sujata Weerakoone, Director General of the EDB and Dr. Yousuf Maraikkar, Acting Chairman of the EDB, also took part at the event.