Sri Lanka is yet to put across a serious business proposal to reap economic benefits from China, said new Sri Lankan Ambassador to China, Dr. Palitha Kohona in a special interview with the Daily News.
“My priority would be to change this lethargic and unprofessional attitude and have a structured approach that will allow not only Sri Lankan business to flourish in China but a wider spectrum of Sri Lankan products to move to the shelves of Chinese super markets.
. “See Sri Lanka’s export catalogue to China, it’s still the traditional tea and few products. This is absurd and I have to ask what the authorities were doing not to include more products from Sri Lanka to Chinese market. I want to create opportunities and not deals that usually don’t work.”
The vice Versa meaning, ‘more Chinese companies should come invest and do business in Sri Lanka’, aspect too would be pursued in a very professional manner, the new Ambassador said. For all this Sri Lanka must have a professional team stationed in Beijing who will firstly make Sri Lanka and then Sri Lankan products and businesses known to the Chinese. They will also display what investment opportunities that are available in Sri Lanka especially like the Colombo Port City.
“I am very disappointed in the manner in which Colombo Port City Marketing is taking place. See its languishing for the past year virtually unknown to China and also the world. The same should be said about Colombo, Hambantota and Trincomalee harbours that are ‘just there’ without talk! “We must project them to the world saying that there are places where global businessmen can earn money.”
Sri Lanka has to create awareness to the global business community which we have not done.
One of the ideal tools to market Sri Lanka globally is the success the country achieved in controlling the covid pandemic. Sadly in global rankings, Lankan successful efforts are played down even below India, where there are nearly 80,000 deaths. “We are the best in the world but have not marketed this at all.”
Sri Lanka can also launch a program for not only businessmen but also tech savvy young or people with special skills who are sick of living in Western countries to live and start their businesses in Sri Lanka. “However this should be done carefully and they too should bring sizable investment.”
In addition a conducive hazel free environment should be created such as allowing them to bring their assets a duty free car for them to start their business and life in Sri Lanka. “This is not rocket science as other countries in the region like Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand are successfully doing this.”
He also said that he will study the proposed FTA with China but will have clauses where it favors Sri Lanka as done by India when negotiating trade deals. “I don’t know what Sri Lanka negotiators were doing at the table.”
He also questioned the rationale of the tourist board targeting and promoting high end tourists who are ‘dead’ scared to travel now. “The Board should look and woo the younger generation who are looking for places to surf, kayak and ect.”
China is 99% free of Covid and it may be a good idea to look at this market. “Taking PCR tests regularly is fair enough but there should be minimal restrictions when they travel to Sri Lanka.”