Financial Times

Malaysia to increase FDI in Sri Lanka


Increased foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected from Malaysia in the post conflict era after interest expressed by Malaysian companies in investment opportunities in the northeast.

Malaysian High Commissioner Rosli Ismail said the Malaysian embassy wants to play a bigger role in bringing more investment to the island. “There will be more FDI after liberating Sri Lanka from the clutches of the LTTE,” Mr. Ismail said at a media briefing to announce the 5th Annual Business Awards of the Sri Lanka Malaysia Business Council. As at December 2008, the realized FDI from Malaysian projects amounted to US$910 million, placing Malaysia first among the countries that have invested in Sri Lanka through the Board of Investment (BOI).

Mr. Ismail said the Malaysian government has also expressed interest in getting more Sri Lankan companies and investors into Malaysia. He added that some sectors in Malaysia are being liberalized and may provide good opportunities for Sri Lankan investors.

At present, there are 18 Malaysian investment projects in commercial operation. Major Malaysian investments in Sri Lanka include Dialog Telekom, the cellular mobile telephone network, Merbok MDF Lanka which manufactures MDF boards and Tritel Services which is a public pay phone system. There is also Naratha Agro-Industries which cultivates oil seeds and manufactures hydrogenated edible oil as well as Wincon Development (Ceylon) Ltd which is involved in housing construction projects for state sector employees.

Mr. Ismail said there has been an increase in trade volumes between the two countries over the past three years although the trade balance is very much in favour of Malaysia. Exports from Sri Lanka to Malaysia increased to Rs.4,973 million in 2008, an increase of 22% from Rs.4,073 million in 2007. Imports increased by 1% to Rs.38,887 million in 2008 from Rs.38,477 the previous year. The main items exported to Malaysia last year were rubber and rubber products, bran, stationery, previous or semi-precious stones and black tea. The main items imported from Malaysia were animal or vegetable fats and oils, plastic and plastic products, earths and stones, mineral fuels and machinery and mechanical appliances.

The 5th Annual Business Awards, covering 11 different categories, will be held in August. This year, the Council has decided to take into consideration corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, research and development and overall business development with regard to the awards. The most coveted award, the Sri Lanka Entrepreneur of the Year, was won by Epic Lanka in 2008.

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