Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 9 June 2013





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Flemish businessmen mull investments in Lanka

"Prospects for Flemish firms are bright in Sri Lanka. We are buoyant and happy to say that two more Flemish industrial regions will send investment delegations here before the end of the year," said the Trade and Investment Commissioner of 'Flanders Investment and Trade', Jos de Clerqc, when he met Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen recently.

'Flanders Investment and Trade' is the official government investment agency of Flanders, the industrious Belgium province renowned for its logistics hub Antwerp.

The business delegation led by Clerqc arrived in Sri Lanka after visiting Bangladesh.

"The Belgium firm Tractabel Engineering will invest in Sri Lanka while two Belgium firms already operating here have decided to expand their investments.

The two firms are the construction firm Besix, and United Tobacco Processing," said Commissioner Clerqc. "A delegation from Wallonia region, well known for hi-tech and clean tech and a delegation from Brussels region, well known for financial services will arrive in November," he said.

"I warmly welcome the Belgium investment delegation at a time we are experiencing an economic upswing," said Minister Bathuideen.

"Since 2005, bilateral trade, has grown by 64%, rising to $ 826 million by 2012. Fifty two percent of our exports to Belgium consisted of diamonds, in 2012."

"Since Sri Lanka is now a middle income country, FDIs play a key role. We welcome committed and promising Belgian investors to our priority investment sectors which are tourism and leisure, infrastructure, knowledge services, utilities, apparel, export manufacturing, export services, agriculture and education. I also encourage investments in low cost energy and renewable power generation projects as well," he said.

"Sri Lanka has become, the highest ranking country in South Asia in the 'Ease of Doing Business' Index, which rose to rank 81 in 2013, from rank 89 in 2012. We are now targeting rank 30 by 2016," Bathuideen said.

"Our new investments here will be in the million dollar range," said Besix, Resident Manager, Sri Lanka, Paul Callebaut.

CEO, United Tobacco Processing, Emmanuel Blomme said, "Our investment here already exceed Euro 15 million. We have decided to double our Sri Lanka output in our B2B segment and recruit at least 1,000 more people to our BoI operations," he said.

"We want to double our cigar-cuts output to two billion per annum," the CEO said.

"In addition to the 250 million cigars produced in Sri Lanka destined for Europe, United Tobacco Processing also supplies one billion cigar-cuts to various cigar manufacturers around the globe. It is this B2B capacity we are strengthening," he said.



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