Sri Lankan Ambassador to China Karunasena Kodituwakku on January 29 stressed the importance of economic and trade cooperation with China.

The Ambassador highlighted that Sri Lanka considers the Belt and Road Initiative a great opportunity for its development, and attaches importance to BRI joint projects between China and Sri Lanka, like Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port.

He also said he hopes to bring more investment to Sri Lanka, to make Colombo Port City a financial centre in South Asia. Colombo Port City completed a key stage of its construction for the reclamation of land in the middle of this month, the Ambassador added.

A comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA), covering goods, services, investment and economic and technical cooperation, is forthcoming to outline Sino-Sri Lankan trade.

According to the Sri Lankan Embassy, the sixth round of negotiations concluded in March 2017, and the FTA is expected to be signed in 2019. “We are very keen to expand our exports to the Chinese market,” the Ambassador said.

Sri Lanka considers the China International Import Expo an important platform for its products to enter the Chinese market, the Ambassador added, saying he hopes the expo will bring the country greater opportunities.

The island country also benefits from China’s tourism market. Last year, more than 260,000 Chinese tourists visited Sri Lanka, according to Sri Lanka’s tourism ministry, and the country hopes to attract more tourists from China, said the Ambassador.