Peacetime Sri Lanka is a favourite investment and export destination for Indian firms. Bilateral trade jumped from $3 billion in 2009-10 to $5.1 billion in 2011-12, according to Sri Lanka Customs. Trade is skewed in favour of India, with India exporting goods worth $4.3 billion to Sri Lanka in 2011-12, comprising more than 22% of the island nation’s imports. From $78 million in 2009, when Sri Lankan internal strife ended, Indian investment in Sri Lanka almost doubled to $147 million in 2011, Sri Lanka Board of Investment data shows.
India is the largest trade partner and one of the top two investors in Sri Lanka.
“Bilateral trade and Indian investment in Sri Lanka should grow multifold in coming years,” said Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej group and president, Confederation of Indian Industry.
Tata, Bajaj, Godrej, Bharti and RPG have established their presence in Sri Lanka. Major Indian investments are Bharti Airtel’s $200 million and $15 million by Dabur. Britannia, Ultratech, Ambuja Cement and Ashok Leyland made in-roads.
Recently, CII stepped up its engagement with half a dozen visits by high level delegations of Indian industrialists in three years. The Sri Lankan minister for economic development, Basil Rajapaksa, is an invitee to CII’s ‘partnership summit’ in January.