ECONOMYNEXT – The United States can offer Sri Lanka investments backed by its development finance agency that could be an alternative to Chinese loans, a visiting American government official said.
“Investments backed by the U.S. government provide a financially-sound alternative to state-led solutions that lead nations like Sri Lanka into debt traps,” Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) David Bohigian said.
OPIC is the U.S. government’s development finance institution, a U.S embassy statement said.
It is to be merged with a wing of the US Agency for International Development to create the US International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) that will increase the financial support that the US government provides to countries in the region.
The move comes in response to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.
“OPIC is committed to supporting projects that promote free and open societies while adhering to strong environmental and labor standards,” Bohigian said.
“We look forward to partnering with Sri Lanka and other regional allies to identify opportunities for investment in ports and other infrastructure, which will fuel sustainable economic growth, create jobs, and leave countries better off.”
Historically, OPIC has invested $118 million in Sri Lanka and currently has almost $20 million invested across four projects, the embassy statement said.
Bohigian and other U.S. government officials visited Sri Lanka from October 3 to 5 to promote U.S. investment in the region and strengthen cooperation with regional allies to drive economic growth and stability.
The delegation met with Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera from as well as representatives of American businesses active in the Sri Lankan market.
“The United States seeks to build strong, reciprocal, and balanced bilateral trade and investment relationships throughout the Indo-Pacific,” said Chargé d'affaires Robert Hilton.
“We work with the Sri Lankan government to ensure that American companies are given the opportunity to compete for government tenders and that tenders are conducted fairly and free from corruption.
He added, “The United States is the single largest export market for “Made in Sri Lanka” garments. We would like to grow U.S. exports to Sri Lanka, from agricultural products to manufactured goods to software and entertainment.”
(COLOMBO, 05 October 2018)