A comprehensive promotional plan has been put in place by the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) to position the Port and its industrial zone as a haven of opportunity for setting up light industries. Many potential investors have been reached and discussions are ongoing for direct investment into the zone.
HIPG’s expert Port Investment team has been stationed in China for about a year, to inform and educate potential investors about new opportunities in Sri Lanka. “We have approached more than 100 enterprises and public institutions which include investors, government sector and industry associations in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, East China, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta region etc.
“Our industry research and investment promotion activities have shown us that although potential investors know Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, they know little about the Hambantota Port and the opportunities, the country can open up from a more industrial and business related perspective. They are unaware of the investment environment in Sri Lanka and HIP for overseas investment, a situation we intend to remedy,” says Justin Zhang, General Manager of Port Investment Services, HIPG.
What is of primary concern to these investors is the supply chain, both upstream and downstream. “They are familiar with market conditions where there are a multitude of raw material suppliers for different industries that can make market conditions competitive, which goes towards mitigation on the volatility of the supply of materials for production. This is something HIP is working on parallel to bringing these investments into the country, which is in our Master Plan,” says Tim Xiao, Senior General Manager, Port Investment Services and General Affairs.
Currently the HIPG Port Investment Services team is on the ground promoting the zone to diverse industries that will fit into the port’s Master Plan in upstream and downstream connectivity in port related industries. The preferred industries are rubber and tire, electric vehicles, electronic equipment, home electrical appliances, new materials for building, nano materials, etc. The investors are being made aware of what Sri Lanka has to offer in terms of tax incentives, low costs of labour, utilities, etc., as well as benefits arising from the country’s Free Trade Agreements. The strategic location of the Hambantota Port is another advantage for investors in terms of proximity to their markets coupled with the multifunctional logistics, port facilities and the added benefits from an industrial park adjacent to the port.
“Our endeavour in bringing FDIs into Sri Lanka, is to connect Sri Lankan and foreign partners in various industry sectors so that the country will realize its full potential. When approaching investors, we usually introduce the “HIP Speed” concept which includes our professional and efficient project team in Sri Lanka and China and the One-Stop Service facility. We also showcase projects such as our ‘Park in Park’ manufacturing operation, the Ceylon Tire Manufacturing Project and SeaHorse Yacht building as examples of how “HIP Speed” operates,” says Johnson Liu, CEO, HIPG.
HIPG says the future holds great opportunity for the South of the country, both in terms of skilled and semiskilled employment and for Sri Lankan investors to set up factories to strengthen the supply chains that will create win-win solutions for everyone. “One of our main objectives is to make HIP a Gateway Port for the Southern hinterland. This requires more industries to be integrated into a smoother supply chain that could be developed, to cater to a massive export market for Sri Lanka,” says the CEO of HIPG.