Indian companies keen to rebuild Sri Lanka’s former war zone

January 28, 2017 09:52 pm | Updated January 29, 2017 03:39 am IST

Tapping potential: Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (right) at the fair.

Tapping potential: Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (right) at the fair.

COLOMBO: The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) will explore the “virgin market” in Jaffna, located in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, for possible business collaborations and to help commercially rebuild the former war-zone, a representative of the trade body said.

Representatives of about 65 Indian companies, ranging from textiles to engineering, are participating in the Jaffna International Trade Fair 2017 that commenced on January 27.

Vinay Sharma, leading the visiting business delegation, said that while many Indian businesses had associates and agents in Colombo in the island’s south, the market in the north was yet to be explored.

“We have now sought information from the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce on labour policies, land, taxation, and the availability of water and electricity here,” Mr. Sharma said. Some Indian companies may even consider acquiring sick industries for revival, he said.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said the initiative hoped to revitalise the northern economy by reviving old industries. “We want to restart the cement factory in Kankesanthurai, the chemical factory in Paranthan and the tile factory in Oddusuddan,” he told The Hindu , referring to manufacturing plants that once thrived in different parts of the Northern Province.

“The aim is to create jobs and bring in investments,” he said, adding that his Ministry, in association with the Northern Provincial Council, will discuss the prospect of holding an investors’ forum in the north. “We will invite Sri Lankans living abroad, across Europe, the United States and Canada, to come and explore investment opportunities here,” he said.

According to A. Natarajan, Consul General of India in Jaffna, India had been an active partner and supporter of the Jaffna Trade Fair since 2010. “Last year, over 50 companies that are part of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce participated in the event,” he said.

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