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LKI’s Research Fellow, Adam Collins, recently spoke on Sri Lanka’s experience of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at a conference entitled ‘China’s Belt and Road Initiative in South Asia and Nepal: Trade, Investment and Connectivity Dynamics.’ The two-day event held on 18-19 November 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal, was organised by the Nepal-China Friendship Forum. A diverse group of participants from across South Asia attended the conference, including academics, members of the diplomatic community, policymakers, and civil society.
Mr. Collins highlighted the diversity of Chinese investment projects in Sri Lanka, which range from a coal power plant to new port facilities and the Colombo International Financial City. He also noted that not all projects were funded by loans—a significant number of projects are foreign investments by Chinese companies, with no debt attached.
While the BRI represents an important opportunity for Sri Lanka to further its ambition of becoming an economic hub in the Indian Ocean, Mr Collins also highlighted some challenges in maximising economic benefits. He emphasised that BRI projects must be consistent with national and regional development strategies, and projects should be accompanied by the necessary domestic reforms to ensure that all sectors of society can benefit from them.