India to invest big bucks in Sri Lanka to set up automotive and pharmaceutical hub

Tuesday 07 August 2012, 10:03 AM by

Going by the statement of India's Trade and Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma, the government is gearing up to establish a large scale manufacturing and export centre for engineering and components manufacturing in Sri Lanka. A pharmaceutical hub in the island nation is also on the cards of the India’s central government. At the inauguration ceremony of 'India Show', Sharma stated that the auto parts manufacturing zone will be established in Trincomalee and major auto makers in the country will be directly linked to the same.

Besides, India will send a delegation of country's top pharmaceutical players to Sri Lanka within a month to test the waters and report back on the possibilities of setting up pharmaceutical hub over their. The government is also considering a USD 5 billion worth of investment to be made in areas like tourism, among others.

At the same time, Sharma had met with Economic Development Minister, Sri Lanka, Basil Rajapakse and the country’s Commerce Minister, Rishad Bathiudeen. In the meeting they agreed upon putting together a task force to scout for further investment opportunities. The task force in question will consist of several representatives from sectors like pharmaceutical, construction, engineering, auto manufacturers and skills development. Officials from the government of both the countries will also form a part of the task force. On this Sharma added, “The manufacturing and export zone for auto parts and the pharmaceutical hub will be given top priority on the mandate of the joint task force.”

Also worth mentioning is that the Indian government will be setting up a skills training centre to train youth, in the field of mechanics, in Trincomalee zone. On being probed about the size of the proposed investment for both the projects, Sharma stated that the figure remains undecided; however, it is sure to be massive. He said, “I can assure you that we will not be holding anything back, and we are willing to give Sri Lanka everything necessary to make these projects a success.”

Furthermore, Sharma stated that both the projects will be completed soon and will kick off their operations when the joint task forces will meet and wind-up the work as early as three months. Notably, the pharmaceutical industry in India happens to be the third largest across the world, in terms of sales and 14th largest in terms of value. At the same time, the automotive industry in the country is among the largest in the world and is also one of the fastest growing markets internationally.

All along, Sharma, Rajapakse, Bathiudeen and Senior Minister, Sarath Amunugama have been discussing about the potential that lies with the investment, which is to be made in the island nation. Also, the talks were on to discuss how both the countries can multiply their trade two-fold to USD 10 billion by 2015. In order to discuss the possible route to achieve the target optimally, a CEO forum was organised on August 4, 2012. The trade and commerce minister of the country also indicated India's interest in Sri Lanka's oil exploration. He said the centre is quite anxious on enhancing its presence in the current oil and gas explorations undertaken by Sri Lanka. Sharma stated, “We want to involve much more in both Mannar and Cauvery basin explorations.”

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