Move to set up EPZs across country hailed | Sunday Observer

Move to set up EPZs across country hailed

The government’s move to set up Export Processing Zones (EPZ) across the country will help attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) for export oriented manufacturing industries which would increase foreign exchange earnings and employment opportunities for youth, said exporters and industry heads.

National Chamber of Exporters Immediate Past President Ramal Jasinghe said the setting up of Export Processing Zones (EPZ) in Bingiriya and Mirijjawela is an initiative under the government’s plan to build 16 EPZs, to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), to enhance Foreign Exchange earnings, promote export oriented manufacturing, and encourage investors to expand and upgrade their manufacturing and business abilities using the facilities that the proposed Export Processing Zones will provide.

It is reported that by the end of the first quarter of 2018, USD 25 million was received in the form of re-investments.

He said since 2002, no new EPZs had been built. The government’s plan to integrate the 16 EPZs in tandem with the development of the Hambantota Industrial Zone would provide modern facilities and infrastructure such as waste water and solid waste treatment and disposal, water and power supply.

It is learnt that Rs. 2.5 b is to allocated from the Budget to develop three zones, Hambantota, Bingiriya and Milleniya. This could boost and fast track the efforts of developing industries identified by the National Export Strategy (NES) launched last year, particularly in the areas of, manufacture and development of pharmaceuticals, boat building, IT/BPO, automotive parts, electric and electronic products and food and beverages.

“While EPZs will boost development in Bingiriya and Mirijjawela by providing the much needed skills development for the youth in the area, employment and knowledge transfer are welcome outcomes of these EPZs,” Jasinghe said, adding that there will be opportunities for more joint venture operations with local manufacturers and service providers, where the local export community could gain better access to enhance their product and service offerings to new and sophisticated markets.

Local manufacturers could use the facilities of the EPZs for research and development activities, which are costly and time consuming, through joint ventures which worked well in apparel industry the past.

“The Chamber believes that while the country needs to boost FDIs and that conditions should be conducive for it, these initiatives will benefit the people in the provinces and the export community by way of gaining know-how, transfer of knowledge and technology, capacity building, research and development, product enhancement and helping to expand the export basket of the country.

This would result in a win-win outcome to the country and the investors,” Jasinghe said.

Export Development Board Chairperson Indira Malwatte said the EPZs will contribute to increase investments in manufacturing for exports.

“Up to now we have had investments coming into real estate and infrastructure development. Investments into manufacturing for exports will create jobs and boost the economy.”

“Local investments in electronics, electrical and apparel in the zones shows the confidence in investing in the country,” Malwatte said, adding that the EDB is confident that with such initiatives, the country could achieve the export income targets in the coming years.

The EDB targets an export income of US$ 20 billion this year.

The Mirijjawila EPZ will focus on industries based on fuel oil, chemicals and byproducts and other finished product industries to minimise water consumption adapting to the prevailing environment conditions.

Spanning over 565 acres, the Mirijjawila Export Processing Zone consists of industrial blocks spread across 338 acres with 309 acres occupied by industries in commercial operation.

The Mirijjawila EPZ is expected to supplement and realise the country’s vision of becoming an economic, trade and a logistic hub in the region. Attracting investments, creating job opportunities leading to an enhanced socio-economic status in the otherwise rural southern district, the zone would attract large scale investment owing to Hambantota’s geo-strategic location and its proximity to the main trade navigation route connecting the West and the East.