Sri Lanka discusses investment options with Iran
VISIT: Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama met a visiting delegation
of the Mostazafan Foundation of Iran on April 4 at the Ministry of
Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion.
The delegation was led by Eng. Mohammed Forouzandeh, President of the
Foundation who was assisted by the Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka
Behnam Behrouz and a number of senior officials of the foundation.
Dr. Amunugama discussed with the delegation areas of co-operation
such as a participation in the development of the 450 acres of reclaimed
land in the Colombo Port area. Other areas of possible co-operation were
in the development of the new International Airport at Hambantota as
well as projects in the agriculture sector.
Secretary, Ministry of Enterprise Development and Investment
Promotion, Thosapala Hewage, Sri Lanka‚Äôs Ambassador to Iran, M.M Zuhair,
Chairman/Director General of the BOI Prof. Lakshman R.Watawala and
senior officials of the BOI were present.
The BOI had also invited representatives from the management of
leading Sri Lankan groups of companies such as John Keells, Hayleys and
Brandix, who were able to meet members of Mostazafan Foundation
companies and hold discussions with the possibility of representing
their interests in Sri Lanka and entering into joint ventures with them.
Chairman/Director General of the BOI Prof. Lakshman R.Watawala, made
a presentation on Sri Lanka‚Äôs potential as a destination for investment.
He highlighted some of the advantages Sri Lanka has to offer potential
investors such as the country‚Äôs location, her skilled labour force, the
free trade agreements Sri Lanka enjoys with India, Pakistan and the EU
He also described some of the sectors where investment was needed
such as infrastructure development.
This included the expansion of the Colombo Port, the modernisation of
the Colombo Airport, the construction of the new airport at Weerawila.
Other areas promoted included the development of new BOI export
Processing Zones, the construction of new high rise buildings, the
upgrading of the transportation system and the Mass rapid Transport
System for the city of Colombo.
Currently investment from Iran was limited to seven companies worth a
total of US$ 175 million and employing 184 staff.
This level of investment did not reflect the extent of trade that
exists between the two countries. Sri Lanka is a major importe of
Iranian oil and Iran a major consumer of Sri Lankan tea.
The Mostazafan Foundation is a very significant foundation in Iran
which engages in charitable work and helps needy sections of the
population. It‚Äôs assets are worth billions of dollars and the foundation
comes directly under the purview of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah
The Foundation has about 180 companies and entities and employs
altogether about 30,000 staff. Its economic activities cover a wide
range of sectors including the manufacture of fruit juices and
beverages, mining, oil products, ceramics, tiles, equipment, cellulose
Some Mostazafan Foundation companies are involved in trading and
transportation as well as insurance and brokerage. Others are
responsible for power plants, development and housing.
The Mostazafan Foundation therefore is an important part of the
economic life of Iran.
The Iranian delegation expressed interest in investing in the country
and will be fielding a mission to Sri Lanka soon.