A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka and Business France yesterday.
The BOI Chairman Dumindra Ratnayake said: “This MOU is a very positive development since it will help to increase in the future investment in areas such as manufacturing and infrastructure. It also has to be seen in connection with the FTAs that Sri Lanka has entered into with India, Pakistan and Singapore and will sign in the future with China. These FTAs give market access to goods produced in Sri Lanka.”
“Another important development is Port City with many opportunities for construction and other investment in the future.”
Ratnayake also said that the agreement will help to strengthen relations and facilitate trade and investment with France in the future.
Indira Malwatte Chairperson of the EDB stated “France is the 6th largest market for Sri Lankan exports to the European union.” She added “Sri Lanka is to launch the National Export Strategy and this will also generate greater interest in our products. Currently we are promoting Ship and Boat building, spices to be used in the manufacture of perfumes and cosmetics and of course the IT sector.” Sophie Clavelier, Head of Business France South Asia, stated “We must ensure that this MOU must live and must work together in developing certain niche areas that Sri Lanka has to offer. One area which I would like to see develop is the Agro Sector where Sri Lanka has lot of potential.”
She added that a country such as Sri Lanka should not look at competing with giants economies such as India but that “Sri Lanka should be developing niche sectors that are quality orientated. We should not look at large but at quality and high end sectors.”
Jean-Marin Schuh, Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka and the Maldives said: “The MOU will enhance the economic co-operation between Sri Lanka and France. We are currently focusing on expanding French exports as well as Sri Lankan investment in France.”
“There are certain areas where l see many possibilities. For example the French side could be interested in developing Sri Lankan ports as France has many leading shipping companies. I also see opportunities in the development of tourism.”
“This is an area where France has considerable experience and in 2020 our country will attract 120 million tourists in the course of the year. Other areas that very promising are co-operation in the financial sector and also we are currently involved in the development of mini dairies.”
Under the Agreement the parties are to exchange information and provide mutual support for the benefit of their clients and also to promote economic growth in both Sri Lanka and France. In addition the MOU seeks to encourage each party to promote the image of the other country and support FDI from its nationals to the other country.
It is also important to note that each party is responsible for its own costs of operation. The agreement will be in effect for a period of two years and would be automatically renewed unless notice is given by one of the parties.
The MOU also covers intellectual property rights and the use of trademarks and logos of their signatories. There is also mechanism for consultation between the signatories of the MOU.
The MOU augurs well for future expansion of tourism, trade and investment from France to Sri Lanka.