Sri Lanka is an Investment Gateway for South Africans.
By Dr Srimal Fernado
Colombo Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka maintains a sense of identity with a divinely determined past moving towards a bright future.Centuries of leverage has shown that Sri Lanka is a strategic trading location between the Middle East and Far East and is one of the most remarkable countries in the world. The country's main endowments include its vast human resource base, rich agricultural land, the rapidly growing industrial and service sector with relatively abundant water. The economy of Sri Lanka is expected to grow eight per cent this year according to “the Asian Development Out Look (ADO) 2011” the annual flagship publication of the Asian development Bank (ADB). Sri Lanka is a middle income country with a per capita income of around US$ 2000. It has a population of 20 million (2010). The private sector plays a vital role in traditional areas of public investment such as transport, energy and telecommunication. The burgeoning high end industries based at the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) of the country yields many opportunities for investments. Exports of garments and textiles are one of the main sources of foreign exchange earnings to the country. An excellent business framework backed by the Sri Lanka Board of Investments (BoI) adds to the attractiveness of the Sri Lanka investment climate. Comparisons have shown that Sri Lanka offers the most business friendly environments in South Asia. Foreign ownership is welcome in most areas of the countries economy. The tourism sector in Sri Lanka as in South Africa, which had an astounding success story, is entering a new track with fresh dimensions. Tourism in Sri Lanka has become a major industry generating wealth and employment and opening the minds of both visitor and resident to different ways of life. The expansion of tourism in the country continues to achieve spectacular gains. Tour operators forecast that tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka is likely to exceed 700,000 this year. In Sri Lanka and in South Africa the hotels and guest inns, elegant restaurants and captivating boutiques give enterprising spirit to the sector. Sri Lanka recently opened the second largest port constructed at a cost of US$ 360 million closer to the main sea lane to the East Asia. The country is building its second International Airport at a cost estimated at US $ 210 million. This will have capabilities of landing Airbus A 380 planes.
The country has the basic attributes for successful agro based industries, namely rich alluvial soil, an adequate water supply and abundance of cheap labour. The country has divided agro industry into food crops, cash crops, long term crops, vegetables and fruits. Mechanization of agriculture has played an important role in increasing the agro production. Present and previous governments from time to time had introduced a range of incentives that enabled farmers to boost their production and increase the output by allowing foreign direct investments in the agriculture sector .The land is devoted mainly to rice, tea, rubber and coconut cultivations as well as to fruits, spices and vegetable products. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. According to the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the country earned a revenue of US$ 1.4 billion in 2010 with a production of 329.4 million kilos. South Africa is an area leader in production of cow’s milk and fish. As Sri Lanka is trying to reach self sufficiency in cow’s milk and fish there can be a strategy to invest or transfer technologies of South African expertise to improve the performance of the animal husbandry, and fisheries sectors in Sri Lanka.
The country's climate and contrasting landscape is ideal for endurance sport activities. Both countries have hosted cricket and rugby championships. Sri Lanka is bidding for the Commonwealth Games in 2018. The marketing connected to the Commonwealth Games would give unprecedented exposure to the country.
The country pursues a moderate Foreign policy that places heavy reliance on multinational diplomacy. Sri Lanka enjoys historic ties with South Africa. The High Commission of the Republic of South Africa in Sri Lanka oversees and coordinates South African Foreign Policy in The Maldives, Bangladesh and Nepal. H.E Geoff Doidge of South Africa is the current High Commissioner for the respective countries. .
Considering the geographic location and having a large domestic market with a growing middle class, competitive labour market, and flexible labour laws with stable inflow of remittances with comfortable balance of payment situation, Sri Lanka is an ideal place for investment for South Africans.
(The writer is a Journalist and a Senior Representative of the International Non Governmental (INGO) sector in Sri Lanka)
By Dr Srimal Fernando Colombo –Sri Lanka