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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

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Investor influx for ports - H’tota gets lucky

* Fortune 500 car manufacturer in H’tota

* Sri Lanka’s location a big plus point

Hordes of foreign and local investors have expressed their desire to invest in port related ventures surrounding the Colombo and Hambantota Mahinda Rajapaksa ports, Ports and Highways Deputy Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena said.

Three such ventures are to commence business in the near future, probably within the next few months since the construction of these three enterprises are in their final stages.

Accordingly, construction of processing plants of sugar, fertilizer and petroleum cum chemicals are nearing completion at the Hambantota Mahinda Rajapaksa harbour premises.

Meanwhile, China’s number three car manufacturer Geely will establish an assembly and manufacturing plant in Hambantota. Geely entered the Fortune Global 500 list at 475 last July and is considered as one of China’s fastest growing car makers. Apart from China, it also has production bases in Russia, Ukraine and Egypt.

According to Geely Director Martin Xiang Sri Lanka has become a key market but more importantly, a manufacturing hub in South Asia for automobile manufacturers. He has also said that initially they are considering an assembly line with US Dollars 20 million in shared investment with Micro Cars Limited. The establishment of the factory will start in the middle of next year. The first phase to be completed by the end of 2014 and the first car will be rolled-out in January 2015.

He said that Sri Lanka’s advantages and attractive location on the main East-West shipping route convinced them to invest in Sri Lanka. The new harbour in Hambantota will be geared to support international and domestic sea cargo transshipment. In conjunction with the Hambantota Airport, the harbour will perform as air-sea cargo transshipment hub. Moreover, the harbour will also be an alternative to the Colombo International harbour, which was the only international harbour in the country prior to commissioning of the Mahinda Rajapaksa port , the deputy minister said.

Investors are attracted to Sri Lanka because of several key advantages such as location, low operation cost, enthusiastic and motivated labour force etc. Besides, easy access to South Asia and many other regions, the open economy and literate labour force are among its strategic advantages. “Many foreign investors have noted that Sri Lanka’s advantages make it a strong contender to be developed as an air-sea cargo transshipment hub. Considering this situation the Ports and Highways Ministry took steps to declare the Hambantota Mahinda Rajapkasa harbour as a free port,” Deputy Minister Abeygunawardena said.

 

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