INDUSTRIALISATION OF RUHUNA : PM OPENS SINO-LANKA TRADE OFFICE | Sunday Observer

INDUSTRIALISATION OF RUHUNA : PM OPENS SINO-LANKA TRADE OFFICE

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the ‘Ruhunu Magam Yovunpuraya 2017’ at the National Livestock Development Board farm at Weerawila on Friday. (Pic: Prime Minister’s Media Unit)
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the ‘Ruhunu Magam Yovunpuraya 2017’ at the National Livestock Development Board farm at Weerawila on Friday. (Pic: Prime Minister’s Media Unit)

Industrialization of Ruhuna through the Hambantota Free Trade Zone will begin to materialize with the opening of the office to streamline Sri Lanka- China free trade complex, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The opening of the office took place yesterday in Hambantota under the patronage of the Premier. Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang, other representatives from China, Senior Ministers, MPs and other dignitaries were also present.

The event marked an important milestone in the relationship between the two countries signifying 40 years of diplomatic relations.

Reiterating that the implementation of the project will also mean the “economic transformation of the whole of Ruhuna,” the Premier drew parallels to the Mahaweli Scheme that was implemented back in 1977. “It will certainly lead to the industrialization of the area,” he said.

“The ‘one-belt one-road’ concept is to build a major trading system connecting China and Europe. It will also build one big trading system in the Indian Ocean. That’s the first trading system that we will have after the colonial power entered. There may be other trading systems which we don’t mind having, as long as there is peaceful coexistence. Trading systems can exist and even compete side by side,” the Premier said.

In moving forward, it is important that Sri Lanka becomes the hub of the Indian Ocean with three of the best harbours. He said that making the country a logistics centre, platform for competitive value addition in manufacturing, in services and in agriculture, is of utmost importance.

“The setting up of the first large economic corporation is what we are witnessing today. So we welcome the one-belt one-route concept and our participation in this system. We have now obtained GSP plus granted by the European Union, and it gives us open market access. We are discussing an FTA with Singapore which we will finalise and sign very soon. An FTA with the People ’s Republic of China and the deepening of the existing FTA with India into an economic and technological cooperation agreement,” the Premier said.

Since the repayment of the loan taken to build the Hambantota port, is done at the initial stages, the debt burden on the country is expected to be reduced immensely. This will attract a further 60 million dollars for investment purposes, which is on top of the 110 million dollars that has been spent on this project.

“A port by itself is not sufficient for industrialization. There is a grave need for infrastructure and power generation. Therefore, discussions are underway for the setting up of an oil refinery and LNG power plant. Other resources, such as steel, cement and docks are necessary. But these won’t stop here. This includes the trade zones spanning throughout Hambantota and Moneragala.

“We further expect to install housing, hospital and education facilities for the people in the trade zones,” he said.

This zone will not be limited to Sri Lankan and Chinese factories but will be open to other countries for them to come and invest and install their factories here. All these efforts will be streamlined from this office. 

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