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* Sri Lanka a potential location for Japanese SMEs to invest - Japan's State Minister
Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 08:05 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 28, Colombo: Sri Lanka's strategically located new infrastructure such as Hambantota airport and port make the island a potential location for Japanese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to invest, a visiting Japanese minister has said today.

Japan's State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kazuyoshi Akaba said Sri Lanka is an option for Japanese SMEs looking for locations to invest, when he called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees Monday.

The primary focus of the discussion between the President and the Japanese Minister was enhancing the trade and economic relations between the two countries.

"We'd like to see new Japanese investors come to Sri Lanka," the President told the visiting Minister.

Akaba said that among the several million companies operating in Japan, more than 90 percent are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are trying to find new locations for investment for which Sri Lanka could be an option. He said that the new infrastructure such as the Hambantota airport and port, which are strategically located, would also be an added advantage for investors.

"I really strongly believe that countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar have a lot of potential," the Minister said.

He also said that investors who had visited the country felt that the investment environment in the island was much better than they had expected, adding that Sri Lanka had "very big promising potential in the medium to long term."

Other topics discussed during the meeting included Japan's willingness to assist Sri Lanka with digital broadcasting technology and tourism. Minister Akaba said that the number of tourists from Japan to Sri Lanka is increasing and that Sri Lanka is becoming more popular among Japanese tourists.

While the President thanked Japan for its continued support to Sri Lanka at international forums, Minister Akaba said that President Rajapaksa's visit to Japan in March of last year and discussions between the President and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made it possible for the two countries to renew their relations with each other and work towards further strengthening those bilateral ties.

Japan's Ambassador in Colombo Nobuhito Hobo and several other officials accompanied the Minister for the discussion.

Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Seneviratne and Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Japan Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda were present during the discussion.

(Photos by Sudath Silva)

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