China’s IZP may get Sri Lanka’s Mattala Airport for Silk Road Station
ECONOMYNEXT – IZP, a Chinese information technology company that builds financial infrastructure to popularize Renminbi on ‘Silk Road Stations’ along China’s One Belt One Road initiative is on track to get Sri Lanka’s second international airport, a media report said.
Sri Lanka called for offers from investors to run and operate the airport with bids closing on August 12.
Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper said "arrangement are being worked out" with China’s IZP group to operate Mattala Airport following a visit by international trade minister Malik Samarawickrama to Beijing earlier this month.
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport has hit finances of Sri Lanka state-run airport agency as it has no revenue to service a loan of more than 200 million dollars loan taken from China. The airport was also designed and built by China.
China’s IZP group offers a payment system to allow direct settlement between Renminbi and local currency and a Visa-like payment card that also promises lower fees.
At the moment international transaction with China requires local currency to be converted to dollars and then converted back to Renminbi (or vice versa) for international transactions.
IZP is supposed to roll out Renminbi financial architecture and popularize online retail along China’s One Belt One Road initiative which seeks to mimic an ancient Silk Route from Europe to China, at strategic ‘Silk Road Stations’ along the way. In September IZP chief Luo Feng met then Sri Lanka Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran,
IZP is also setting up a ‘big data’ platform with data mining capabilities claiming to offer up to date information.
Sri Lanka has been selected as ‘Silk Road Station’ between China and the Middle East on the sea route (21st century Maritime Silk Route) of the One Road One Belt initiative. On the Belt side (Silk Route Economic Belt), Kirgyztan is expected to play the same role.
In 2014, IZT expressed interest in buying troubled Parma Airport in Italy for much the same reasons.
IZT also has a port ‘port alliance platform’ with China Merchant International, which owns a terminal in Sri Lanka’s Colombo port.
China Merchant International is also expected to get heavily involved in the running of Hambantota airport close to Mattala, which also a severe financial drain on Sri Lanka’s state-port agency.
China will also get its own export processing zone in Hambantota, a key bulwark of a ‘Silk Road Station’. COSCO, another Chinese group is expected to build a shipyard there.
Sri Lanka is also offering a Colombo International Financial Centre for the Chinese at a reclaimed China City near Colombo’s main port, with its own laws.
IZT has also signed a deal with Kirgizstan for Astana International Financial Centre, which ‘state within a state’ with a Singapore style legal framework. (Colombo/July18/2016 – Corrected IZP)