Sri Lanka seeks help from China in trade, investment and tourism

Sri Lanka has asked China to support trade, investment and tourism to help it continue to grow, Colombo’s envoy to Beijing said on Monday, adding that it would seek $4 billion to help it emerge from an emergency. Negotiates emergency packages. financial crisis,

The island country with a population of 22 million is battling the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Angry protesters due to lack of fuel, food and medicine fell Rajapaksa ruling family.

Ambassador Palita Kohona’s emphasis on China as the key to Sri Lanka’s economic recovery reflects Beijing’s position along with Japan as one of Sri Lanka’s two biggest foreign creditors. China also has about 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt.

in an interview with Reuters At Sri Lanka’s Beijing embassy, ​​Kohona said Colombo wants China to ask its companies to buy Sri Lankan black tea, sapphires, spices and textiles and to make Chinese import regulations more transparent and easier to navigate.

He said Beijing could also help by investing more in huge Chinese-backed port projects in Colombo and Hambantota. Kohona said that major Chinese investment plans had not materialized due to the Kovid-19 epidemic.

In addition, Sri Lanka would like to see more Chinese tourists, whose numbers fell from 265,000 in 2018 to almost zero after the 2019 suicide attacks and pandemic.

Kohona said Sri Lanka’s new President Ranil Wickremesinghe plans to visit China to discuss cooperation on trade, investment and tourism, among other issues.

Wickremesinghe is no stranger to China. A photo of him shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as he visited Beijing in 2016, when the prime minister hangs in the hallway of the embassy. Reuters Interview to happen.

Kohona said he did not expect any fundamental changes in the new government’s policy towards China.

He said he understands that China is now finding it difficult to act quickly to help Sri Lanka because, as a major global creditor, it is financially in trouble for many other countries. “Maybe if it was only Sri Lanka, it would be a lot easier to decide.”

Sri Lanka had been in talks for several months for a $4 billion aid package to China, which this year included a $1 billion loan to pay off an almost equal amount of Chinese debt.

It is also seeking a $1.5bn credit line to pay for Chinese imports. Kohona said these imports are mainly inputs needed for her country’s lucrative apparel industry like buttons and zippers.

Sri Lanka is also expected to persuade China to activate bilateral currency swaps worth $1.5 billion.

Kohona said that discussions on financial assistance with China are still ongoing but no date has been set for the next meeting.

The Chinese foreign ministry said this month that Beijing was willing to work with other countries and international financial institutions to “play a positive role” in helping Sri Lanka.

Beyond financial aid, Sri Lanka also hopes that China can help it buy fuel, fertilizers and other urgently needed supplies.

China had pledged $74.09m in emergency aid to Sri Lanka in April and May. “We need a lot more,” Kohona said.