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American investors interested in tourism,
agriculture and other sectors

*Attracting investments would require more to be done
*Responsible investments, getting local communities involved – De Mel

American investors would be keen to invest in tourism, agriculture, dairy farms and a host of other industries but improving transparency, reducing excessive taxes and improving the ease of doing business would be necessary in order to attract these investors into the country, the Ambassador of the US to Sri Lanka, Ms. Patricia Butenis said.

Addressing the media at a forum organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), she said the US Agency for International Aid (USAID) had conducted a study to gauge which sectors would most interest American investors, as Sri Lanka’s post war economy is believed to hold tremendous potential to grow.

"It was not a surprise to anybody to learn that tourism, agriculture, dairy, information technology and so many other sectors came out as sectors that would interest American investors. What needs to be done now is to attract these investors and there are several issues that need attention.

"American investors would want transparency. They would want to feel confident in the legal system where contracts would be honoured. Infrastructure would also have to be developed. These are issues Sri Lanka is already committed to improving," she said.

She said AmCham was in the forefront in lobbying with government for better trade relations between the two countries.

"Among some of the issues raised by the chamber is the need for transparency, the need to reduce excessive taxes and removing import barriers. Indecently, trade is fairly one sided, more is exported to the US from Sri Lanka, than what is imported from the US to Sri Lanka," Ms Butenis said.

Speaking to the Island Financial Review, a Director of AmCham, Suresh De Mel said that investments ought to be responsible investments where the people are made stakeholders of a project.

"We should change the mindset of the people. Investments should not be done as another handout, but rural communities must be made stakeholders, they must be given an opportunity to get involved. This would create self confidence and is much more desirable from the dependency syndrome," De Mel, who is also the President of the Business for Peace Alliance, a grouping of chambers from all regions in rural Sri Lanka.

"We need to create joint ventures and partnerships between foreign investors and local entrepreneurs. They should start small. This would be the responsible approach," he said.

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