CHEC Port City Colombo is a game changer and an exciting project, said Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council Chairman of the CWEIC, Sir Hugo Swire at the Commonwealth Business Forum, held alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali. This was the first and largest, in-person gathering for governments and businesses across the Commonwealth since the COVID-19 pandemic which attracted over 1,700 delegates from over 90 countries.
Sir Hugo, in his opening address, stated, “It’s a very exciting development, despite the current economic situation prevailing in the country, the Port City SEZ is ring-fenced from that.”
CHEC Port City Colombo in collaboration with the Colombo Port City Economic Commission successfully introduced the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to 50 plus potential investors and members at a specially curated breakfast meeting held at the Business Forum Event. The event was a global platform for Sri Lanka’s first service-oriented Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be showcased in the Business Forum, which was held in Kigali, Rwanda from June 21 to 23 2022.
As a strategic partner of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), Port City Colombo participated as a knowledge partner of the Commonwealth Business Forum. The panel also consisted of the Director General of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission. Dr. Priyath Wickrama provided insights on the Commission’s role in the project and further also addressed some of the key misconceptions about the project.
The event was well received by the audience and generated positive feedback on the overall unique features and positioning of the Port City SEZ.
It was highlighted that the investor confidence was primarily driven by the Port City Economic Commission engaging with global consultants for providing best practices for ease of doing business, banking and ring-fencing regulations which will ensure the independent functioning of business activities within the zone. CHEC Port City Colombo Deputy Managing Director Thulci Aluwihare made the keynote address.
During the Business Forum senior management of CPCC and the CPCEC had meaningful one-on-one dialogues with leading institutions and leaders from the business community that cited a Special Economic Zone in Colombo was paramount in attracting Foreign Direct investment.
A common topic discussed with most investors was the current thinking on economically ring-fencing the SEZ with robust regulations to ensure the impact of current macroeconomic shocks on the country is minimized and the risks can be managed suitably within the zone.
As per the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act, 100% of development capital and business capital are required to be raised overseas which allows for such supportive ring-fencing regulations.
In addition to voicing concerns on the current macro-economic outlook and potential policy reforms as the next steps to be engaged as a result of an IMF Program, Investors were keen to obtain clarity on the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that would be offered for businesses setting up or relocating to Port City Colombo, SEZ. It was communicated that priority sectors and Businesses of Strategic Importance will be granted a tax holiday of up to 40 years which is to be established through regulations. Overall, the event allowed CHEC Port City to engage and market the SEZ to a global audience whilst also inundating them with the value proposition at play and indicating why this could be a service-based hub in the South Asian region.