On the theme of ‘Growth through Partnerships’ with the focus on bringing in investments into Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave was held during 30th May to 01st June 2017 hosted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The Conclave saw the participation of 110 International and 124 Sri Lankan participants.
Here are the key takeaway massages of the key sessions of the Conclave which featured panelists representing the Government and the private sector.
- The ‘Private Public Partnership (PPP) Unit’ of Sri Lanka was launched, which was formed to source investments from both national and international private sectors to drive the national economic agenda.
- fDi Magazine, part of The Financial Times UK, has selected Sri Lanka as the top pick among twenty seven island economies around the world as having the most potential to attract investment.
- The liberal and reformist investment climate, fast growing economy, fast implementation of infrastructure network, global and local political recognition, strategic location and a transparent system of procurement are the positive factors which suggest that the investor community will consider Sri Lanka for investment.
- In order to boost investment and exports it is essential to get the exchange rate, effective tariff protection rates, trade policy and trade facilitation into right direction.
- Government is focusing on creating more Export Processing Zones under a public-private partnership basis to allow foreign investors manufacturing opportunities as well as be a partner in creating the zone.
Perspectives on Investment Opportunities in Sri Lanka
The following individuals participated in this session
Kamal Dorabawila- Principal Investment Officer (International Finance Corporation)
Krishan Balendra-Executive Director (John Keells Holdings PLC)
Romesh David-President- (John Keells Holdings PLC-Transportation Group)
Muhunthan Canagey-Chief Executive Officer (information and Communication Agency –ICTA)
Energy Sector – Kamal Dorabawila
- Opportunities to invest in Sri Lankan energy sector were expanding due to tracing the transition from hydro and thermal power to renewables and the government was taking steps to facilitate investors as well.
- Compared to other South Asian regions Sri Lanka has wider reach with few interruptions, however there are significant areas for improvement.
- The government has already approved a mixed power development project, and also just closed a bid for combined cycled gas turbine and there were number of projects in preparation stage to bring in solar in other parts of the country.
- This development phase provides a very big investment opportunities. In emerging markets solar is becoming a very competitive option.
Real Estate Sector-Krishan Balendra
- The real estate sector is expected to grow through next 10 years.
- Changes in urban lifestyles have fueled growth, where the sector has seen 2,000 apartments being sold per year, during the last two years and this trend is expected to continue for the next 10 years.
- Although the apartment culture is setting in, compared to developed cities in Asia, 2,000 a year is very low figure.
- Issues around increased vehicle ownership and traffic have triggered a trend for centrally located and people are now compromising on space, with building smaller houses and gardens.
- Outside Colombo there is a significant increase in land prices, primarily in land sites suitable for tourism, especially in coastal areas. Many opportunities exist in the service industries connected to tourism industry and transportation.
- Sri Lanka needs a very good air network. There is potential for private companies in the air transportation network to provide services such as, pick-and-drop services and small air cruise liners.
Shipping and Logistics Sector- Romesh David
- There are two PPPs which are now open for investment, which require heavy infrastructure investment; one is East Container Terminal and the second is the West Container Terminal.
- The Hambantota port has a lot of potential as it is a big harbour and it has the advantage of having jetty areas and land. The government is very close to finalizing a long term lease with a consortium of Chinese companies and it will necessarily involve large investment by these companies and an invitation for investments by external parties.
- There are many opportunities for investment related to leisure activities in terms of marinas, yachting and yatch building in Galle which has been earmarked for tourism.
- There is great potential for investment in tourism related activities and specifically industry related developments in the natural harbour in Trincomalee.
- Logistics extend beyond port; at the moment Sri Lanka is operating mainly as a container hub. Country should extend to areas such as cargo development; regional distribution and large scale warehousing.
IT/BPO Sector- Muhunthan Canagey
- IT/BPO has large potential for development and generating export revenue to Sri Lanka.
- There are many opportunities in the IT/BPO industry and many companies whose core business is not technology related were entering the industry.
- Currently many foreign companies come in, invest in startups in small ways.