‘The Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and China is currently being discussed. Expectations are that both Sri Lanka and China will be equal trade partners. But considering the on-going trade imbalance the question could be asked, ‘How could Sri Lanka benefit’. Last year trade between both countries was barely 3 billion dollars. If you are to be equal trade partners then it is time you took stock of such imbalances and improved your options’, China’s ambassador to Sri Lanka Wu Jianhao said Thursday at a forum convened by the Sri Lanka - China Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
The ambassador said cooperation between the countries could not have been better. Government – to – government interaction was an on-going phenomenon, and at that level, conditions were as good as could be expected.
‘Sri Lanka’s plans to be ‘The New Wonder of Asia’, was a substantial undertaking. That was a goal the country was relentlessly pursuing. Such was the official plan to be realized in the short run; but subject to such ambitions being considered within the realm of government planning, it should not and could not end there. The business community had an important role to play in realization of these plans.
Ambassador Jianhao said understanding the business climate in China was important for trade promotion. There was no real selected trade that could be identified. Whatever was currently in operation was continued but no apparent improvement could be identified. There was no real progress.
The visa issue was yet at discussion level. This brought better understanding between both countries. Stemming from such positive developments, he said there were extensive opportunities that should be considered by the Sri Lankan business community to apply more intensive innovation to understand the Chinese market. This has not happened.
‘Infrastructure for cooperation was in place. China has contributed to public amenities; for instance, power, energy, transportation and similar areas for such development. The container terminal was one and Colombo Port City is being developed. Investment opportunities were in place. The climate for such progress was already established, the ambassador explained.
‘Sri Lanka has to expand on options available; which were in consonance with opening the Chinese market for trade with Sri Lanka.
President Sri Lanka / China Business Council Navindra Abeysekera in a short introductory speech indicated the areas of discussion.
Professor Ranil de Silva, Director, World Class Universities Grant Project, University of Sri Jayawardenepura, presented insights into the health advantages of drinking Ceylon Tea.