France-Sri Lanka trade balance set to stabilize this year

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

"The balance of trade between Sri Lanka and France will become stable in 2016 as against 2015. In 2015,Sri Lanka had purchased three 380 Airbus flights for SriLankan Airlines from France, which took the total value of trade to US $ 1.2 billion, French ambassador to Sri Lanka Jean Marin Schuh said.

"Sri Lanka and France bilateral trade and investment are now on a better footing and the balance of trade will become stable for both countries this year. Therefore, trade and investment development will improve in the years to come, French ambassador Schuh said recently at the 12th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka-France Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The event was held at the Hilton Colombo Residencies, organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

"Further, France being the 6th largest economy and a country with a most advanced technology, could help Sri Lanka's economic development endeavours in a significant manner, Schuh said.

The ambassador also said French companies could be involved in Sri Lanka's major infrastructure development projects, including the present government's flagship project, the megapolis programme.

He also said that there are many French companies that could support the development activities of Sri Lanka, especially in urban development, water supply and management, development of smart cities and the megapolis project, which are now in the pipeline.

A leading French company is now involved in gas exploration activities on the East coast and if gas is discovered, it would be the first French company to assist Sri Lanka in gas exploration in the country, Schuh said.

"Sri Lanka-France Business Council promotes trade, investment and tourism for both countries. In 2016 more than 100,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka due to the peaceful environment in the country. However, the recent Nice attack in France by a terrorist group will adversely affect trade, investment and tourism for France during the year, he said.

President, Sri Lanka-France Business Council Asanka Ratnayake said that in 2004 the Council was established with 40 members and now it had developed into 75 members, comprising top French business entities.

"Sri Lanka is now going through a major transformation in the area of policy reforms, which would create a window of opportunity for trade and investment for both countries., Ratnayake said.

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