JAKARTA, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka is increasingly focused on a strong investment and trade relationship with China, the executive director of Sri Lanka's Board of Investment (BOI) said Tuesday.
"Sri Lanka is in the final stage of negotiating a free trade agreement with China, which could give us access to Chinese goods in the Sri Lankan market duty-free, and vice versa, Sri Lanka goods in a very large Chinese market," Duminda Ariyasinghe told Xinhua.
Sri Lanka has a population of only 20 million, and it needs free trade agreements to reach out to a wider group of people, Duminda said.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of the Asian-African Business Summit.
Duminda also noted that Sri Lanka is witnessing a surge in Chinese visitors. "Tourism from China is relatively small, but it is the fastest-growing segment."
In China, there are a lot of people with increased purchasing power who want to travel overseas, he said, highlighting the great potential for Sri Lanka to tap into.
The two countries boast strong historical ties and a lot of social and political connections, Duminda said, adding the BOI is very keen to attract Chinese companies to base their production there.