Sri Lanka's participation in China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will boost the country's economy and help it attract more foreign direct investment (FDI), participants of the "Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2017" have said.
Speaking at the gathering here on Wednesday, Jim McCabe, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Sri Lanka said the Belt and Road Initiative would strengthen the country's competitiveness and improve its growth and development.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.
"The OBOR (Belt and Road) will help Sri Lanka get the FDIs it needs. The OBOR has many positives for the island country," McCabe said.
Wen Zha, associate professor from China Foreign Affairs University speaking at the summit, said the Belt and Road Initiative will cover more than 4 billion people and it would increase connectivity in the region.
She said the initiative was open to all the countries and Sri Lanka would be an important part of the initiative due to its geographical location in the Indian Ocean region.
"Sri Lanka can link its own development plan to China's initiative in order to achieve a win-win situation," Wen said.
However, participants also said at the summit that Sri Lanka must do more to be better involved in the initiative in order to reap benefits.
"Language is a barrier between the two and Sri Lanka must take steps to learn the Chinese language," Group Managing Director of Sunshine Holdings PLC Vish Govindasamy said.
The two-day annual summit, which ended on Wednesday, organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, attracted over 40 sectoral experts, industry practitioners, government officials and ministers taking part to discuss ways of strengthening the island's economy.