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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2791

Japan’s second biggest regional economy makes Sri Lanka entry

Colombo, 25 October, (

In the backdrop of Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent landmark visit to Japan, comes the swift arrival of the first ever high profile business delegation from Kansai -Japan's second-largest industrial and financial region featuring 20th largest GDP in the world –and the delegation is in search for “across the board” biz and investments partnership with Sri Lanka, as announced on 22 October.

“This is the first ever delegation from Kanzai to Sri Lanka and we are here to obtain in-depth understanding of the state of fast developing Sri Lankan economy. Our region has a strong interest to expand and collaborate with the Lankan business sector” announced an upbeat Masayuki Matsushita (Vice Chairman of Kankeiren, the Kansai Economic Federation) on 22 October.

Kankeiren Vice Chairman Matsushita was addressing the Lankan official team led by Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka) on 22 October at Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo. The leader of the 21 member high profile business delegation from Kansai Economic Federation (Kankeiren) that met Minister Bathiudeen on 22 October was none-other than Masayuki Matsushita (Vice Chairman of Panasonic Corporation Japan who is also the Vice Chairman of Kankeiren). Among the members of this pioneering delegation were reps from such Japanese multinationals as Hitachi Zosen, Daikin Industries, Mitsui, Marubeni, National Panasonic, Sumitomo Corp, Kyoei Steel, Nippon Express, Takenaka Corp, Kinki Nippon Tourist, as well as reps from Osaka City Government, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Asia and Oceania Resona Foundation, and JICA (Kansai International Centre). Joining Minister Bathiudeen were his top officials of Ministry of Industry and Commerce and its Department of Commerce, as well as T.M.K.B. Tennekoon (Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce).

Japan’s second biggest regional economy makes Sri Lanka entry

• Historic, high profile biz team from Kanzai to Colombo
• Led by National Panasonic’s second in Command Matsushita!
• ‘Strengthens our historic bilateral relations’-Rishad
• ‘Want to invest & partner across the board’- Matsushita
• Bilateral trade up by 31% to $1.1Bn
• ‘Keen on environment, knowledge economy, services’-Matsushita
• ‘We import from Kanzai too’-Rishad

‘Willing to give our environment tech to Lanka’-Matsushita

“This is the first ever delegation from Kanzai to Sri Lanka and we are here to obtain in-depth understanding of the state of fast developing Sri Lankan economy, industry, commerce and legal environments and policies, and to identify business opportunities here, specially in environment sector. Our region has a strong interest to expand and collaborate with the Lankan business sector” said Kankeiren Vice Chairman Matsushita and added: “After the visit of Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Japan in early October, bilateral cooperation between both countries and greatly strengthened. Kanzai is the second largest economy in Japan and includes such mega cities as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nagano etc. Our Kanzai Economic Federation (Kankeiren) is the leading economic institution formulating Kanzai regional economic policy for the central government. We have a 1400 strong member body of businesses and companies that include top Japanese firms that are also global leaders-such as National Panasonic, Hitachi Zosen, Daikin Industries, Mitsui and Sumitomo Corp etc who are right here, sitting with me. We also want to know about future Lankan investment policy on economic development and sustainability as a South Asian logistics hub so that these info could be forwarded to Japanese industries and companies that are looking to invest across the board here-and specifically in sectors of infrastructure, knowledge economy, manufacturing and services in Sri Lanka.

Since 1960s we have experienced various environmental issues in Kanzai region-air pollution, rapid urbanisation and waste disposal etc and we have overcome these issues! Therefore we can extend cooperation in environment sector-that is protection, sustainability related knowhow and technologies for Sri Lanka’s environment issues from Kanzai. We express Japan’s firm determination to continue promoting investments and trade relations with Sri Lanka and will strive to constantly provide up to date information on Lankan business environment to our member companies in Kanzai.”

Kanzai’s regional GDP is such ($712 Bn in 2014) that if it is taken as a single country, it would rank as the 20th largest economy in the world, standing above Sweden and even Switzerland but just below Saudi Arabia. From time to time, institutions facilitating Lanka-Japan trade and biz have been stressing the need for correct information on Lankan business environment for Japanese businesses, citing such a lack to be “a major hurdle.”

“We are highly pleased of this your delegation’s visit which is a prompt result from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to Japan this October. Your visit greatly strengthens our bilateral relations” responded Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “Sri Lanka is in the process of improving its business information provision to global investors. Key Lankan government agencies such as the BoI now provide information on Lankan investment and related regulatory environment. We welcome Kanzai investors to partner not only with our environment sector but across all sectors. Japanese investors are specially welcome to invest in Sri Lanka’s automotive sector. Once manufactured, their products could be exported to India and Pakistan using our Free Trade Agreements with these two markets. Let us not forget bilateral trade as well. In 2014, bilateral between both countries stood at $1.17Bn, increasing by a strong 31% compared to 2013. Sri Lanka’s imports from Japan were at $941 Mn, most of which were automotives. Japan is an important export market for Sri Lankan tea, apparel, seafood and coconut products but there is great unrealised potential for Lankan exports to Japan. As for trade with Kanzai, I am given to understand that a considerable amount of imports from Japan are coming from Kanzai region.”

In 2014, 73% of Sri Lanka’s imports from Kanzai region were used cars, followed by woven fabrics and TV sets while our exports to Kanzai region stood at $0.2 billion–consisting of fish, clothing accessories and manufactured rubber. We believe that your arrival and meeting here is a great step forward in strengthening our trade with Kanzai region.

Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who visited Japan met Shinzo Abe (Japanese Prime Minister) on 04 October in Kyoto.

- Asian Tribune -

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (right) meets Masayuki Matsushita (Vice Chairman of Kansai Economic Federation “Kankeiren” and Vice Chairman, Panasonic Corporation Japan –left) who led the 21 member Kansai Economic Federation “Kankeiren” delegation to Colombo on 22 October.
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