SL, a leading sourcing destination for China - Dr. palitha Kohona | Sunday Observer

SL, a leading sourcing destination for China - Dr. palitha Kohona

11 October, 2020

Sri Lankan industries should be developed as a source for quality products to China, said Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Dr. Palitha Kohona told Sunday Observer Business on Friday.

He stressed the importance of developing Sri Lanka as a sourcing destination for quality products to China and the rest of the world to boost bilateral and multilateral trade.

Dr. Kohona commended the keen interest shown by the Government to strengthen commercial ties with the Asian giant.

“The new Government is placing high emphasis on developing trade and investment relations with China.

This may not be new, but the emphasis is certainly new and more vigorous,” the senior diplomat said.

In 2019, Sri Lanka exported goods worth USD 229 million to China while the value of imported goods from China exceeded USD 4 billion. Tea, coir products, rubber products, minerals and apparel are some of the key export items from Sri Lanka to China.

“China is a rich and major market and Sri Lanka should explore all avenues to enhance trade.

While emphasising on tea, we should also consider exporting cinnamon, pepper and other spices. We can also supply natural rubber tyres and mattresses to the Chinese market,” Dr. Kohona said.

Highlighting the fashion consciousness of the Chinese, he said there is enormous potential for Sri Lanka’s quality clothing and garments in China.

“Do not forget gems. Chinese are the biggest buyers of gems in the world at present,” he said.

Even though China-Sri Lanka relations go back to the 1950s, Sri Lanka is yet to reap the maximum benefit from the booming Chinese economy, Dr. Kohona said.

He outlined the importance of targeting major metropolises of mainland China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin to improve the image of Sri Lankan products.

Maintaining a flow of quality export products is vital to improve Sri Lanka’s image in the world’s second-largest economy, the Sri Lankan envoy stressed.

“For instance, we seem to be emphasising the fact that our tea is cheap. But the Chinese are no longer interested in cheap tea. They want expensive, quality and well-packaged tea.

We need to go in that direction,” he said. An expert in the field of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Dr. Kohona declined to comment on the proposed China-Sri Lanka FTA as he is yet to study the viability of the proposed FTA.