Sri Lanka signed a number of agreements with China during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent visit to China. President Rajapaksa held bilateral discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Vice President Li Yuanchao and Premier Li Keqinag.
During these discussions the two countries also signed an agreement to establish two committees that would work towards a free-trade agreement.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa held bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing. China pledged to provide further funding to develop Sri Lanka’s transport sector that includes a number of expressways, road networks and railway lines, including a new Colombo-Jaffna expressway.
The Chinese government will also aid Sri Lanka in developing a Colombo-Kandy-Kurunegala expressway and extending the southern expressway from Galle to Kataragama.
During the bilateral meeting, the two delegations also discussed trade and tourism. The two countries signed an agreement to establish two committees that would work towards a free trade agreement. This would give Sri Lankan products such as apparels, gems and jewellery, tea and rubber wider access in the Chinese market.
While urging China to further open up the Chinese market to Sri Lankan products, President Rajapaksa made a request to Vice President Yuanchao to look into lowering the price of Sri Lankan tea in the Chinese market. The President observed that the prices appear to be high and that lower prices could make it more accessible to more Chinese consumers.
With regard to tourism promotion, Vice President Yuanchao promised to encourage Chinese tourists to visit Sri Lanka. Referring to the South Asian nation as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” he said that during the war, tourists were scared to visit Sri Lanka, but that is not the case anymore since terrorism was eradicated under the strong leadership of President Rajapaksa.
In the area of tourism, Sri Lanka and China agreed to work towards the goal of attracting 100,000 Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka by 2015.
China has also pledged support for a number of other projects: Water supply schemes in Attanagalla, Minuwangoda and Kurunegala, an international conference hall in Kandy, an arts theater in Anuradhapura and the development of the national hospitals in Colombo and Ragama.
(Source: The Sunday Leader)