China, Sri Lanka tie-up to revive agri productivity - Ambassador | Daily News
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China, Sri Lanka tie-up to revive agri productivity - Ambassador

China and Sri Lanka are working closely towards better cooperation to increase agricultural productivity to help alleviate poverty in Sri Lanka, Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka Cheng Xueyuan said yesterday.

The Ambassador, speaking to the media at the Lotus Tower in Colombo yesterday, said a delegation from China was presently in Sri Lanka researching and learning on dry season problems and exploring more ways to help mitigate those problems.

“One area they have looked into is the potential to create artificial rain to help farmers survive the dry season. Both Sri Lankan and Chinese Governments have paid more attention to enhance cooperation in the agricultural sector and poverty related issues. Jointly, we hope to achieve more progress in the future in this area,” he said.

The Ambassador said that Chinese led projects in Sri Lanka has so far created over 100,000 direct employment for Sri Lankans and that over 10,000 Sri Lankans have received technical training as a result of those projects.

He made this remark debunking the claim that Sri Lankans are deprived of job opportunities due to Chinese expat workers presently employed in various Chinese funded development projects. “For example there are about 1,350 employees at the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) and out of them 26 are Chinese expats. As a percentage, it is less than 1 percent. The situation is same in other project sites.These claims were made without knowing the real situation,” he noted. The Ambassador used the forum to respond to the claims on luring Sri Lanka into a debt trap by Chinese loans, also alleging that “it was a falsehood narrated by some Western countries”. “According to the Central Bank and Finance Ministry reports in 2018, the total external debt of Sri Lanka as at 2018 was USD 52,000 million. The balance of Chinese loans to be settled as at now is USD 6,000 million. This is 11.5 percent of the total external debt, and 60 percent of those Chinese loans are concessionary loans given at low interest rates. We support Sri Lanka with genuine interest to help its development,” he elaborated. Observing that many prominent Chinese companies are currently thinking about investing more in Sri Lanka, the Ambassador highlighted the need to improve business environment in the country for better investment.

Observing that Sri Lanka is at the verge of another important Presidential Election, the Ambassador pointed out that there is common understanding of the China’s role in Sri Lanka’s development irrespective of political and ethnic differences in the country.

The Chinese Embassy officials, including the Second Secretary Luo Chong, Commercial Counselor Yang Zuoyuan, Political Counselor Hu Wei and Interpreter Prof Huo Weimin, took part in the event along with the Ambassador.



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