Sri Lanka participates in 6th South Asia Expo in China

Sri Lanka, the theme country for 2019, attends the sixth South Asia Expo from 12-18 June in Kunming, China with 104 Sri Lankan exhibitors in a pavilion of 600 sqm showcasing the country’s major export products such as tea, gem and jewellery, handicrafts, spices, Ayurveda products, and agricultural products. The pavilion also features Sri Lanka as a major investment and tourism destination, highlighting Colombo Port City – the Hub of South Asia – and many more tourism attractions to the large number of visitors from China.

Deputy Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Nalin Bandara Jayamaha together with Yunnan Province Governor Ruan Chengfa ceremonially opened the 600 sqm Sri Lanka-themed pavilion at the expo and delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the expo as well as the 14th China-South Asia Business Forum held on the sidelines of the sixth China-South Asia Expo.

In his speech, the Minister highlighted the enormous potential for further promotion of trade and investment between Sri Lanka and China before a large gathering of business entrepreneurs representing South Asia and the Southeast Asia, inviting the Chinese entrepreneurs, especially the Yunnan Province investors, to engage in development projects and economic activities in Sri Lanka.

While thanking the Yunnan Provincial Government for giving Sri Lanka the opportunity be the theme country at the expo, the Minister further stated that the efforts the Chinese Government to organise this massive event clearly shows the Chinese Government’s intentions to expand imports from South Asian countries. Amid its efforts to deepen reform and boost opening up, he said this was an indication that

China pays attention to the concerns of the South Asian countries over trade balance, and is ready to continue trade relations with South Asia.

The Minister also requested the Governor and the leaders present at the opening ceremony to encourage Yunnan domestic enterprises to expand investment in Sri Lanka, build industrial parks, push forward cooperation in major projects, and invest in sectors such as electronics and electrics, boat-building, food processing, wellness tourism, and IT BOP. Further, the Minister emphasised the importance of technology transfer between China and Sri Lanka in order to fulfil the potential of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Highlighting the Sri Lanka-theme pavilion, Jayamaha said that Yunnan can integrate its advanced industries with the developmental needs of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka-theme pavilion portrays Colombo Port City, which is expected to transform Sri Lanka into the hub of South Asia and attract large numbers of visitors. The Governor of Yunnan Province was keen on the opportunities offered under Colombo Port City and accepted the Minister’s invitation to visit Sri Lanka.

This year, the event takes place at the Kunming Dianchi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Centre, featuring 17 pavilions and 7,500 booths including the Belt and Road investment and cooperation pavilion, the green energy pavilion, and the forest ecological products pavilion.

The China-South Asia Expo and Kunming Trade Fair are two investment extravaganzas designed to further integrate the Spring City’s economy with those of China’s neighbours.

The Sri Lankan Pavilion is organised by the Department of Commerce of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce together with the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, with the active support and cooperation from the FCCISL, Sri Lanka Tea Board, and National Gem and Jewellery Authority.

Many Sri Lankan small and medium-scale enterprises are provided with the opportunity to display their unique products in a platform to expose them to the wider Chinese market as well as other international buyers. This year’s event will be attended by exhibitors from 80 countries and visitors from more than 100 countries.

The volume of trade between China and South Asia has been growing over the past years. Sri Lanka’s exports to China registered at a mere $ 35 million in 2007 and have now reached more than $ 230 million. China was the second largest country for tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2018, and has been increasing its investment in the island nation’s development significantly in recent years.

Under the Belt and Road Initiative, Sri Lanka is faced with prime development opportunities and there is a huge market in the Yunnan Province that needs to be explored. Participating at the South Asia Expo and the steady promotion of business cooperation in Sri Lanka has established the cooperative platform to achieve greater benefit. The prominent Sri Lanka Pavilion continues to attract numerous visitors during the fair, bringing fairly positive results. Sri Lankan Ambassador to China Karunasena Kodituwakku along with Director General of Commerce Sonali Wijerathna, Reka Mallikaarachi, Ameina Mohin, Wijekoon from the Department of Commerce of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Minister – Commercial Alexi Gunasekera, and coordinators of Sri Lankan participation Bimsara Rantunga and Chami Wu attended the event.