Sri Lanka as Hub in China’s Expanding Silk Road Outreach

Mirror News Item 19 May 2019, with title  “China claims Sri Lanka hub in Silk Road strategy””

China hinted Sri Lanka’s growing importance in its ambitious US$500 billion One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative claiming Sri Lanka is a ‘hub’ in its OBOR strategy.  Sri Lanka meanwhile stressed of its own role in OBOR, and revealed that the Colombo Port City project despite the 25-year long timeline, is ‘progressing at great speed’.

Minister Bathiudeen (right) is joined by Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region’s (GZAR) Director of Department of Commerce  Diao Weihong (second from left) at the event. Pic by Kithsiri de Mel

“In OBOR, Sri Lanka is a hub as per our strategy,” said Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region’s (GZAR) Director of Department of Commerce Diao Weihong yesterday, addressing the launch event of 2018 Guanxhi Product Exhibition and China Guanxhi Brands Silk Road series in Colombo.

This is the largest product exhibition to be unveiled in Colombo by the provincial government of Guanxhi Zuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), with more than 60 companies from GZAR taking part. GZAR enjoys a very important position in the OBOR while previous Chinese travelers recorded that Guangxi had ties with Sri Lanka way back-2000 years ago.

“We both are people close to each other. Over the last few years China-Sri Lanka strategic partnership has been getting into the prime area and we are closer than ever before. Especially in OBOR, Sri Lanka a hub as per our strategy. We believe we can bring prosperity to both our countries,” Weihong said.Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen addressing the event, updated Sri Lanka’s contribution. “Sri Lanka is considered as a destination in the OBOR. The large scale Port City initiative which is progressing at great speed is expected to enhance Sri Lanka’s hub status in South Asia. Even though this is a 25-year long project the development work is moving at a fast phase” he said.

“Sri Lanka’s trade with China has been on a growing trend. Last year’s China Sri Lanka total bilateral trade was at US$ 4.4 billion. This is a huge, 46 percent increase in comparison to trade total five years ago at US$ 3 billion in 2013. With the completion of the proposed FTA with China, I am sure that these trade levels will grow in strength. As for the FTA, I am pleased to say that the consultations are progressing smoothly.

“China has also become a major FDI provider to Sri Lanka. In 2017, China provided more than 32 percent of Sri Lanka’s annual FDI. Chinese investments are mainly in infrastructure projects and strategic development projects. I am sure that with this week’ announcement that China will be providing US $ 1 billion for our central expressway project China’s leading position as a major development partner of Sri Lanka is re-affirmed again.”

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