Indian textile companies to get space in Sri Lanka
By P K Balachandran / ENS - COLOMBO
05th August 2012 08:25 AM
The Indian textile industry would start manufacturing in Sri Lanka and also help the existing Lankan textile manufacturers upgrade their technology, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told Indian correspondents on Saturday.
The minister, who held discussions with Indian and Sri Lankan CEOs and government officials on the sidelines of the “India Show”, said that captains of the Indian textile industry would be visiting Lanka in the first half of September to discuss this matter.
Sharma said that co-operation between India and Sri Lanka could help corner a significant share of the world garments market, given the fact that the cost of production in China had gone up.
The Minister announced that a top-level delegation of Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers would be visiting Lanka between August 14 and 16 to work out a plan to set up a pharmaceutical hub in the island. The location of this hub has not been decided yet.
Asked what kind of incentives would be given to the Indian private sector to invest in Lanka, given the fact that labour and power costs were high and money was not available on easy terms in the island, Sharma said that Indian corporations had the financial muscle to make such investments as they had already invested more than US$ 100 billion outside India. “These days, supply chains are global, and they exist because they make business sense. As for financial assistance, if necessary, the Government of India will talk to the major banks to help private sector investors,” he said.
The CEOs recognised that natural rubber prices were going up in India because of a shortage. Therefore, there was scope for Indo-Lankan joint ventures in rubber-based products using Lankan natural rubber.
Power generation and power linkages also had great scope, the CEOs said. They called for speedy implementation of the undersea power cable project linking Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, so that the surplus power could be sold by Sri Lanka and vice versa. Indian power companies showed an interest in setting up power plants in Sri Lanka, especially to tap the wind energy, which could provide 40,000 MW power to the grid.
CEOs of Indian technical institutions said that they could set up branches in Lanka if the regulatory framework for foreign educational institutions was suitably amended.
Indian hoteliers said they would like to invest in middle range hotels rather than high end ones. They also offered to open hotel management schools as Lanka would need another 35,000 hotel rooms to meet its rising demand.
CEOs of both countries wanted visa and employment regulations to be relaxed to enable businessmen and professionals to move easily and also secure employment.
Mineka Wickramasingha, chairman of Ceylon Biscuits Ltd, said he saw a “new India” emerging and hoped that Sharma’s “positive approach” would percolate to the Indian bureaucracy.
V S Sahney, president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that CEOs’ forum had a critical role to play because “India’s growth story would not be complete without taking its neighbours with it.”
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