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English>>Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka set to begin Chinese-funded new development projects by end of year

(Xinhua)    19:42, March 07, 2016

COLOMBO, March 7 -- Sri Lanka is set to begin Chinese-funded new infrastructure development projects by the end of the year after the two countries have agreed to further strengthen their economic ties, an official has said.

Niroshan Perera, state minister of national policies and economic affairs, said in a recent interview with Xinhua that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will discuss prospects of attracting new investments during his visit to China in April.

And the two sides will also discuss the implementation of a free trade agreement (FTA) and the commencement of infrastructure projects which Sri Lanka believes will help boost its slow paced economy, the state minister added

Perera said that during the visit, which will be Wickremesinghe's first since winning a parliamentary election in August, the prime minister will also look to further strengthen political ties with China.

"This will be a very crucial visit which will set the tone for the next couple of years," Perera said.

"Also as you know, we are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with China, so we hope that all these projects will come together by the end of the year along with the investments. Thereafter we hope to have a strong economic partnership with China."

One of the key issues which will also be on Wickremesinghe's agenda, will be to discuss a multi-billion-dollar Port City project funded by China, which was suspended by the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena in March last year.

The project which had begun under construction in September 2014 was suspended as the government said the project needed to be reviewed.

Sri Lankan leaders recently announced that it will go ahead with the project, which would be the first of its kind in South Asia.

"Negotiations are ongoing so as soon as we reach an agreement, the project will begin work. It can even be before the Prime Minister leaves for China," Perera said.

Reiterating that Sri Lanka's relations with China have been strong, Perera said ties have now been strengthened further after the new government came into power last year.

He said most of the Chinese-funded projects which had been suspended, have now been given the nod and their construction have begun.

"When we were talking to the Chinese government, there was no misunderstanding. It was only that we had to review some of the projects which took some time. But I think we can move on now and it is good for China and Sri Lanka to further strengthen their ties."

Perera noted that while the government was in the process of setting up a special industrial zone at Hambantota in the south of the country for Chinese investors, the government invited China to invest in other areas including the former war torn north and east too.

Sri Lanka hopes to be part of China's Belt and Road initiative, saying this would lead to further economic corporation between the two countries.

Perera will lead a 100-member youth delegation to China next week in order to educate the future generation on China's development.

Perera said it was important for Sri Lanka's future generation to maintain strong ties with China for the betterment of the country.

The delegation will visit several cities in China and hold discussions with Chinese officials.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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