In The Press

Port City to create 83,000 jobs for Lankans


A high-level Chinese diplomat said on Thursday that the Colombo Port City was one of the most important projects in China’s One Belt, One Road development scheme.

The Port City is “a witness to the friendship between Sri Lanka and China,” Hangzhou Vice Mayor Xie Shuangcheng said.

He was addressing a seminar on potential business partnerships between Sri Lanka and investors from Hangzhou, China, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.

“We are all participants of the Belt and Road initiative,” said Science, Technology, Research and Skills Development Minister Sarath Amunugama, referring to China’s plan to link China with South, Southeast, and Eurasian countries by continuous sea and land routes.

Apart from the Port City, he said China and Sri Lanka’s joint venture at the Hambantota port was already showing results, with plans for a large export processing zone on the way.

“It is a model based on what you have done in China,” he said.

Although Hambantota is close to one of the world’s busiest sea lanes, few ships currently stop there to unload cargo or refuel, however, Minister Amunugama said that Sri Lanka’s free trade agreements with India, Pakistan, and Singapore, as well as its participation in the EU’s GSP-plus initiative, made it an ideal location for investors looking to reach a variety of export markets.

“Sri Lanka is at a strategic spot on the global map,” he said. Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake proposed developing a “twin cities” programme between Colombo and Hangzhou. Hangzhou is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in China and is home to the tech giant Alibaba.

The new Port City “will be nothing short of excellent,” she said, opening up new opportunities in the retail, service, and hospitality sectors. Its developer, the China Communication Construction Company, had invested about US$ 1.4 billion and promised that it could create 83,000 new jobs.

“We are a country that is on the up,” Board of Investment Director General Duminda Ariyasinghe said,“Our number one foreign investor is the PRC, China,” he added.

He promised a streamlined BOI process for prospective investors, with a five-day window to respond to all proposals.

“Sri Lanka is a small country of 22 million, but we have access to large markets,” he said..