Sri Lanka priority country for High-powered Indian business delegation

Dec 15, Colombo: A high-powered Indian business mission that just visited Colombo says Sri Lanka is a priority country for Indian industry.

The 13-member Business Mission from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) led by Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan, Vice President of CII Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys Ltd. has visited Colombo from 11-13 December, 2011, a press statement of Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

The delegation has held discussions with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and, Minister of Industry Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen.

The main business interest areas of the delegation members were IT/BPO, auto components, metal and plastic products, electronic and engineering products, hydro power generation, real estate, financial services, educational services, tourism, agriculture etc.

The High Commissioner of India, Ashok K. Kantha also received the business delegation. They also had meetings with Chairman, Export Development Board Janaka Ratnayake, and, Secretary, Ministry of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing Common Amenities S. M. Gotabhaya Jayaratne. Ceylon Chamber of Commerce organized a business to business meeting for the delegation.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan during the meeting with President Rajapaksa has reiterated that Sri Lanka is a priority country for Indian Industry. He has said that CII would partner with relevant institutions in Sri Lanka in capacity building and training of human resources at various Centre of Excellence run by CII.

He has offered to train 200 Sri Lankan students at Infosys training facilities at Mysore, and modalities for this would be worked out with the Government of Sri Lanka.

The delegation has assured the Economic Development Minister that CII would work closely with Sri Lanka to develop various investment proposals and disseminate the opportunities available in Sri Lanka among the members of Confederation of Indian Industry.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan said that Indian companies will leverage the policy support provided by the Government of Sri Lanka to set up priority industries like pharmaceuticals, IT and tourism and hospitality.

CII also agreed to share their experience and expertise to promote rural entrepreneurship through home based micro enterprises and “rural BPO”.

The Minister has said that his government is keen to develop three and four star hotels and invited Indian companies to invest in this sector. He also invited Indian companies to invest in vegetarian restaurants in the country.

CII also offered to identify partners for capacity building and training of staff for hospitality industry. Discussion also focused on cooperation in the education sector. CII agreed to send an education delegation to Sri Lanka next year for further discussion.

During the meeting with Indian delegation Minister Bathiyutheen has confirmed his participation at the “Partnership Summit” to be held in Hyderabad from 11-13 January, 2012.

CII also confirmed that it is sending a business delegation for Sri Lanka Expo 2012. CII is partnering High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi to promote Sri Lanka Expo 2012.

During President’s visit to India in June last year, the two countries agreed for closer economic integration, building on the progress achieved through the FTA and the need for intensive consultations towards developing a comprehensive framework for sustainable economic partnership between the two countries.

CII business delegation requested the Sri Lankan Government for early conclusion of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement between India and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan side assured the Indian delegation that they are taking necessary steps for early conclusion of an agreement for closer economic cooperation.

The other members of the delegation included T. T. Ashok (Taylor Rubber Pvt Ltd), S. Chandrashekar (Bhoruka Power Corporation Ltd), S. Balasubramaniam (MARG Ltd), Naveen Bansal (Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd), Pranab K Bose (Waterford Institute India), Biju V Jakob (ICICI Bank), Sreekant Lekshmivarahan (TVS and Sons Ltd), Mr. Ranjan Mallick (Alstorm Projects India Ltd), Giridhar Rao (Griffith Laboratories Ltd), Vineet Varma (Brigade Hospitality Services Ltd), S. Sen (Confederation of Indian Industry) and GD Sharma (Confederation of Indian Industry).

CII a non-government body works closely with Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to foster business and economic linkages between the two countries.

India is the largest trade partner of Sri Lanka. Trade between the two neighbors has surged six times since 2000 when bilateral Free Trade Agreement came into force. The bilateral trade turnover has crossed US$ 4.1 billion between January-October 2011 and is likely to touch US $ 5 billion mark by the year end. In 2000, the bilateral trade turnover amounted to US$ 658 million.

India is among the top four investors in Sri Lanka and was the largest FDI source in 2010 with investments worth US$ 110 million. The cumulative Indian investment of India into Sri Lanka since 2003 has crossed 650 million USD. Several Indian companies have planned investments in the Island in the coming years. Likewise, investments by Sri Lankan companies in India too are surging as Sri Lankan businesses take advantage of Indias dynamic economy.

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