COLOMBO: Indian companies have invested nearly USD 1 billion in Sri Lanka since 2003 and this figure could rise above USD 2 billion in the next five years, Indian envoy to Colombo Ashok K Kantha has said.
With investment inflows of USD 160 million in 2012, nearly USD 2 billion worth of FDI had been committed by Indian companies for the next five years or so, he added.
Addressing a trade gathering here yesterday, Kantha highlighted that in 2011-12, India's imports from Sri Lanka went up by almost 45 per cent to cross USD 720 million, making Sri Lanka the largest source of merchandise from the South Asian region for India.
This was a big jump from the USD 45 million imports in 2000-01, when Sri Lanka occupied 4th rank as an import source for India in the region.
Also Sri Lanka's exports to India had multiplied by over 16 times in this period, while India's exports to Sri Lanka had gone up by less than 7 times.
"There was thus no doubt that the FTA had brought significant benefits to both sides, but more to Sri Lanka. A number of top Indian companies had displayed high interest in Sri Lanka, investing in the country across sectors such as infrastructure, manufacturing, services, and construction," the envoy said.
Air connectivity had gone up manifold and there were about 120 flights a week between Colombo and eight destinations in India; almost one-fifth of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka was from India.