Sri Lanka’s economic expansion appears more apparent than ever as the country’s ongoing development efforts brought together four of the world’s financial heavyweights. China, Japan, the United States and India are making sure they get a piece of the action as the South Asian nation continues on the long road to achieve prosperity.
Essentially, Sri Lanka is winning the crucial vote of confidence from the Big Four that are competing to flex their might and influence in the region. It is no secret that China has emerged as one of Colombo’s key trading partners, having secured long-term business deals with the Sri Lankan government.
Not to be outdone, traditional ally India is ramping up on its campaign to further win favour not only from Colombo but also from Sri Lankans. In a report, The Economic Times said New Delhi is very much involved on development projects that will please both Sri Lanka and the country’s nationals.
Building Up Sri Lanka
Both India and China are heavily invested on massive construction activities envisioned to modernise the island nation. In the northern part of the country, the former took charge of housing projects that saw the completion of 44,000 units to be made available to victims of the civil war in Jaffna.
In the same way, Beijing is making it presence felt in Jaffna. April this year, a China-owned construction firm won a $300 million contract to build similar housing units in the province. According to The Economic Times, the company has encountered difficulties with Tamil locals on the make of the houses and the project could hit a snag.
Fortunately, India thought it wise to intervene, to perhaps strike a compromise and in the process underscore the fact that it understands Sri Lanka in a better way.
While helping out to resolve the issue, India is likewise sending out the signal that it intends to play a key role in developing Sri Lanka. The Indian government provides grants to rebuild sectors of Sri Lanka that were ravaged by the civil war.
The next-door neighbour of Sri Lanka is also active on several infrastructure projects involving the construction and modernisation of key facilities – airports and harbours – around the nation.
For its part, China casts a big shadow on Sri Lanka’s march to economic explosion. December last year, Beijing formally took over the operations of the Hambantota Port that gave the world’s second biggest economy strategic access to the Indian Ocean.
In effect, China taking charge of Hambantota, on the strength of a 99-year lease, is also taking considerable control of what is regarded as one of the world’s busiest shipping route, The Economic Times report said.
New Kids In Town
Inevitably, Sri Lanka’s emergence caught the attention of the great powers operating in the region and they wasted no time to express keen interest. The publication said the U.S. recently extended aid that supposedly will enhance the capabilities of the Sri Lankan navy. The price tag of the help given amounted to $39 million and likely there will be more to come.
Japan followed suit and contributed patrol boats worth millions of dollars, purportedly to make for a more formidable Sri Lankan defence of its waters. Tokyo too has indicated of plans to work with India on undertakings that will see the expansion of port facilities.
These actions, the report said, clearly point to one thing – that Sri Lanka’s stature is rising and fast, and the world is certainly taking notice.