Pledges to import more from Sri Lanka; encourage more Chinese tourists in tandem with greater connectivity during official talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa
The Chinese Government has assured Sri Lanka it will increase imports as well as encourage more tourists, two moves which will further boost ties between the two countries.
This assurance was given by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week in Beijing.
“It was a very successful visit especially with regard to promoting Sri Lanka’s exports and tourism,” President’s Media Division Director-General Bandula Jayasekara who also participated in the tour told the Daily FT yesterday.
He said, in response to Sri Lanka’s position that bilateral trade was heavily tilted towards China, Premier Jaibo had assured that his country will increase imports. “We will do all what we can to increase imports from Sri Lanka,” Chinese Premier had said during the meeting with the President at which Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming was also present.
Value of imports from China is 16 times the value of Sri Lanka’s exports to that country.
Noting that it was Visit Sri Lanka Year, Jaibo had also said that the Government will encourage more Chinese tourists to enjoy holidays in Sri Lanka.
For this the need for increased air connectivity was emphasised and is expected to be facilitated via discussions between aviation sector officials of both countries.
Tourist arrivals from China is among the fastest growing, up 80% in the first seven months of this year though percentagewise the total arrivals it is only 2%. However arrivals from China are heading for a new high in 2011.
Bilateral talks also took up the post-war reconciliation and reconstruction in Sri Lanka, major infrastructure development as well as measures to boost cultural ties.
Since 2007, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has visited China several times including in October last year as a special guest to attend the Expo 2010 Exhibition in Shanghai.
An official Government statement following the meeting last week said that President Rajapaksa had expressed his gratitude for the Chinese assistance for the number of ongoing projects in Sri Lanka.
Chinese Government is the biggest bilateral donor for Sri Lanka with some of the supported projects being the Hambantota International Harbour, (both phase one and two) and the Norochcholai power plant.