Sri Lanka looks at strategic partnership with Qatar

 26 Oct 2017 - 0:00

Sri Lanka looks at strategic partnership with Qatar
Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce, addressing Qatar-Sri Lanka Business Forum at the Sheraton, yesterday. Pic: Salim Matramkot/ The Peninsula

By Satish Kanady / The Peninsula

Sri Lanka is looking to reinforce its presence in Qatar. The nation, with a vision to emerge as an ‘upper middle-income economy’, is keen to explore fresh opportunities beyond the labour market participation.
“As a nation, Sri Lanka is transforming into the hub of the Indian Ocean, with a knowledge-based, highly competitive and a social-market economy….At this juncture the Qatari market is important for Sri Lanka”, the country’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen stated yesterday.
Bathiudeen was addressing a high-profile Qatar-Sri Lanka Business Forum, here yesterday. Qatar has a very good potential in the fields of education, technology, and infrastructure. “We are looking forward to establishing fruitful business linkages and partnerships with Qatari authorities in all conceivable areas for co-operation”, he said.
Elaborating on Sri Lanka’s potential as an ideal investment destination, the minister said Sri Lanka has created a very conducive environment in the country for the promotion of Foreign Direct Investments with investment safeguards and guarantees provided in the Constitution itself.The country is a signatory to the Agreements on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and for the Promotion and Protection of Investments between Qatar and Sri Lanka which can act as a catalyst to creating a win – win partnership in promoting future investments. Our educated and adaptable workforce will be another asset.
The fast-developing infrastructure projects such as the Western Region Megapolis, Colombo Port City and the proposed Financial City will pave the way for Sri Lanka to become the prominent financial hub in the region.
It has already commenced to attract investment from India, South Asia, Middle East and the European countries, he said. The Sri Lankan Government has established an International Arbitration Centre in Sri Lanka. Through this center, it is expected that international companies would be able to resolve commercial-related disputes. The export sector is the live wire of the national economy and the focus is to revive our engagement with our foreign friends.
We are implementing a series of reforms to revitalize Sri Lanka’s export competitiveness including the ease of doing business. It will integrate the country more closely with the region and the rest of the world.
The supportive legal reforms to be introduced will considerably improve the business-friendly environment. Reforms will be introduced particularly to the new Inland Revenue Act, Foreign Exchange Act, State Land Bank Act, Anti Dumping Act, State Commercial Enterprises Act, Ports and Airports Act etc. Sri Lanka has also entered into several trade agreements that have provided convenient access to Sri Lankan businesses to venture into the South Asian region and beyond. Amongst such agreements is the Free Trade Agreement signed between Sri Lanka and India.
It provides for many thousands of items to enter into the Indian market at zero tariff rates. The FTA with Pakistan that is in place and the other FTAs being negotiated with China and Singapore will provide even bigger market access.
“While governments could facilitate a trade and investment framework, it is the private enterprise that forge partnerships and develop new frontiers of co-operation in order to realize economic potential of such alliances.
It is therefore our hope that the forum will create a platform for networking by both our entrepreneurs and the business personnel to reap the expected targets in our trade and investment relations”, he said.