Sri Lanka chamber envisions global businesses with Mattala, Sharjah link

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan investors can build global businesses by linking with UAE’s Sharjah airport free zone and Mattala airport, accessing a larger global market without state restrictions, officials said.

Secretary General of Sri Lanka’s Federation of Chamber of Commerce Ajith Perera said local firms who set up shop in UAE can build a value chain linking Sri Lanka.

"FCCISL stands for the free flow of goods and services across the globe," he told a business forum in Colombo.

SAIF Zone Director General Saud Salim Mohamed Salim Almazrouei said firms could set up with a 100 percent foreign investment and free repatriation of profits and capital.

The country had a stable currency linked to the US dollar without any domestic interest rate manipulation.

With a stable currency, there were no restrictions in transferring any currency or denomination, SAIF business promotion manager Thomas Joseph said.

FCCISL has linked up with Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF) with a promotional package to help Sri Lankan set up shop there.

FCCISL President Sarath Kahapalarachchi said his chamber is signing a deal to cross-promote business within the two countries.

Kahapalararchchi said he saw opportunities for an investment zone near Sri Lanka’s Mattala Airport to operate as a feeder zone for manufacturing and logistics services with Sharjah.

Mattala Airport in Hambantota is not active and Sri Lanka is struggling to promote revenue-generating economic activity around the airport, which also has a related industrial zone. There was much Sri Lanka could learn from how SAIF zone operated, officials said.

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SAIF’s Business Promotion Manager Joseph said a license and facilities key will be given in 24 hours for businesses wanting to set up in Sharjah.

SAIF needed an investor to fill an application with his passport and a business plan, and the zone prepared the documents including articles to incorporate a company within the same day.

As soon as the fee is paid, keys to the pre-built factory (manufacturing) warehouses (for logistics) or offices (for services) would be handed over.

Companies wanting to establish branches had to bring their company documents and board resolution.

There were no restrictions on importing labour. There was no requirement to have a UAE shareholder.

Pre-built accommodation is available for workers. All types of foods, including Sri Lankan, were provided by catering firms.

Joseph said firms wanting to build their own factories could get a plot of land of 2,500 square meters or multiple. They got a six-months grace period to start construction and a five rent cap.

There were 7,500 firms in SAIF. (Colombo/Aug29/2016)

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