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“Colombo Port City to become a major economic hub in the region”, says former British Prime Minister Daivd Cameron

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The recently concluded Port City Colombo UAE Road Show unveiled the potential of PCC for all to see, drawing the attention of numerous global investors and dignitaries to the immense investment and business opportunities that this visionary project presents. The event served as an exceptional platform for fruitful discussions and an opportunity to showcase the abundant and diverse prospects at PCC. The Roadshow witnessed an impressive gathering of international investors and influential figures, all eager to explore the myriad investment avenues offered by PCC.

Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron was also present at the event as the guest of honour. He delivered a keynote address and participated in a broad discussion about the prospects of PCC. Discussions ranged from real estate development to regional trading and hub operations, luxurious residential and retail spaces, and much more. The former PM shared his keen insights about special economic zones like PCC, highlighting their massive potential for success and boosting the economies of their host countries. He used the Dubai International Financial Centre, Singapore and many other examples to clearly illustrate the emerging opportunities. The event also provided an opportunity for PCC to directly and clearly communicate to investors about the incentive programmes available.

Speaking at the event, Mr Cameron explained to investors how Sri Lanka has had to recover from the aftermath of a 30-year-old war which derailed the country’s economy, and that it has done so, successfully. Soon after the war, the economy showed sustained growth and after battling through many economic difficulties, there was an economic rebuilding phase where the economy gathered traction. He also pointed out that Sri Lanka enjoys a strategic geographic location in the Indo-Pacific region with its neighbouring relationship with India and continuous investment from other countries right across the region.  In fact, the Island has been a historic hub for trade and investment thousands of years. Mr Cameron also highlighted how, historically, trade and diplomacy had helped to avoid any major hostilities between the key players in the region.

Mr Cameron emphasised that one of the Sri Lanka’s key development projects was the establishment of Port City Colombo (PCC), and that he believes it is destined to become a major economic hub in the region. PCC brings in renewed hope for economic growth and potential for major investments. It is a visionary multibillion-dollar project that aims to redefine Sri Lanka’s economic and social landscape. Built on reclaimed land, adjacent to the heart of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, PCC will offer a cosmopolitan lifestyle, world-class infrastructure, and sustainable living.

As a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), it also provides a range of incentives and benefits for businesses, making it an ideal destination for international businesses, hotel owners and operators to establish their presence in Sri Lanka. In addition, PCC’s regulatory framework aligns with global standards and has brought in a transparent and business-friendly environment. The SEZ’s independent governance framework, by way of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission (CPCEC), is also setting the stage for PCC to become one of the easiest places to do business in the region, further cementing its prospects as the “Gateway to South Asia”.

Overall, Mr Cameron’s remarks resonated well with the gathering of investors and other dignitaries, highlighting the transformational potential of PCC in South Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific. As a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), PCC offers a unique blend of incentives and benefits, making it an enticing destination for businesses, hoteliers, and investors from around the globe. He went on to discuss Sri Lanka’s geographic advantage, being at the centre of a population of about 3.2 billion people in the Indo-pacific and just 40 km away from India, at the closes point between the two nations. With that, PCC could attract investors from around the world and could possibly evolve to become a centre of investment in the future.

Mr Cameron also stressed the importance of creating a business-friendly environment within PCC with initiatives such as low taxation which encourage investment. Countries like Dubai have led by example, he said, leveraging their economic hubs and inspired people to both invest and live in those countries. Sri Lanka can achieve the same with its strategic positioning and opportunities to both invest and live in Sri Lanka. Mr Cameron pointed out that India is one of the biggest economic powers in the world and that it has provided investment opportunities for countries around the world. India enjoys such economic growth thanks to the common law system, fair taxation and most importantly being free from corruption. Hence, for a country like Sri Lanka, it is extremely important to draw inspiration from Asian countries and translate the economic concepts and models to better work in a local context.

Discussing his perspective on PCC, Mr Cameron said, “While Sri Lanka faces some challenges ahead, the ample opportunities that it represents for growth, in the region and beyond, are incredible. Port City Colombo is at the centre of this sea of opportunity, and if the right environment is created, which I believe Port City Colombo is doing, then Sri Lanka’s potential is unlimited. The UAE is a great example of what can happen under the right conditions, and Sri Lanka is doing its best to recreate these conditions with Port City Colombo. One of Sri Lanka’s greatest advantages lies in its access to some of the world’s largest markets and one of the world’s fastest growing regions, South Asia. This provides it with a key strategic advantage in terms of being able to complement and supplement business operations in India. A number of key global investors, and I, are of the firm view that Sri Lanka has a great role to play in the future of the region, and that Port City Colombo is the first major step on that journey.”

Mr Cameron also took the opportunity to commend Sri Lanka on its progress with regard to creating the Colombo Port City Special Economic Zone and its distinct legal framework and governance and oversight by the single-window facilitator, the Colombo Port City Economic Commission. He also referenced President Ranil Wickremasinghe’s comments, further reiterating Sri Lanka’s commitment to Port City Colombo, declaring that a distinct financial system will be in place to transform Port City Colombo into a financial centre. Even amidst the economic crisis, the government could navigate the country to safe waters and is doing a commendable job to sustain economic growth. Sri Lanka’s participation in an IMF programme should serve as an incentive to invest in the country, as structural reforms are underway, paving the way for an economic resurgence and accountability.

The need for Sri Lanka to accept Port City Colombo’s role in its future journey of recovery was reiterated many-a-time in the course of discussions. The progress of the project as a 100% foreign-direct investment funded development would depend on the government’s commitment towards protecting investors in Sri Lanka. The geo-political narratives of development projects is no longer relevant and it is time for the country and its people to reap the full benefits of such investments which accrue to the people of Sri Lanka.

Overall, the event was a resounding success with many investors around the world expressing their interest to invest in PCC. The opportunities for networking ensured that the participants were presented with valuable insights and a comprehensive overview of potential investment opportunities. It paved the way for new business partnerships and more collaboration among business partners, especially in the Indo-pacific region. As Asia is gradually emerging as a new economic global power centre, projects like PCC will help to strengthen ties between countries in the Indo-pacific region, build bridges and ring in an era of increased prosperity for all.

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