First high-powered Chinese delegation to Sri Lanka inks SME pacts
Originally published in the Daily Mirror (Print Edition) on Wednesday 11th December, 2019

From left: Secretary General Mianyang Association of Commerce Yuan Wenyan, COSMI founding member Hui Dias Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka's State Minister of International Cooperation Susil Premajayantha (who witnessed the signing of the two agreements) and Chairman, Mianyang Enterprise Union for Import and Export John Luo (at far right) look on as Chairman Mianyang Association of Commerce Zhang Zhongcheng and COSMI Founder President Nawaz Rajabdeen exchange signed agreements at Hilton

The first high powered Chinese business delegation to Sri Lanka to arrive under the new government is from the most technological and dynamic hub of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project. Facilitated by Sri Lanka’s Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Industries (COSMI), the high-powered Chinese team promptly moved for closer B2B and technological ties with leading Sri Lankan industrialists and SMES by inking two landmark cooperation agreements with COSMI.

“Our Mianyan is an important pivot city on the junction of OBOR project. It is the most dynamic city on the China OBOR belt. First high-powered Mianyan is the only science and technological city approved by the Chinese government. It is also one of eight Chinese national 'layout areas' for systematic promotion of comprehensive innovation and a leading electronic and intelligent manufacturing hub with multiple research and tech centres, and is the second largest economy in Sichuan province" hailed Zhang Zhongcheng, Chairman of China Sichuan Province Mianyang Association of Commerce (MAC).

Addressing the pioneering MoU signing and B2B event between them and Sri Lanka's COSMI at Hilton Colombo yesterday, Chairman Zhongcheng, the leader of the 15-member Mianyang business and tech delegation to Sri Lanka added: "We shall exchange cooperative information and intentions, and also hold one-to-one meetings with SM Es and leading industry representatives of Sri Lanka:' In 2017, China was the second largest supplier (Sri Lanka's second largest source of imports) to Sri Lanka though a year earlier in 2016, China briefly rose to become the topmost supplier to Sri Lanka for the first time.

Total bilateral trade between both countries in 2017 was at US $ 4.6 billion, growing from US$ 965 million in 2007. In the same period, Sri Lanka's exports to China rose by 11-fold to total US$ 415 million. On its part, COSMI believes that Asia Pacific region can play an important role in providing new technology and machinery to improve quality and productivity of Sri Lankan SMEs.

COSMI President Nawaz Rajabdeen said that he believes there are two million SMEs and micro enterprises in Sri Lanka. "COSMI works for the revival of industrial sector in Sri Lanka that now faces various setbacks including lack of new tech and international links. This is why we bring international businesses here and link them to our local SMEs for investment and cooperation.

COSMI is now planning an industrial machinery expo to be held in Sri Lanka next year" he added. On December 9, the visiting Chinese businesses took part in many one-to-one B2B `COSMI matchmaking sessions' with eager Lankan firms. COSMI has been founded recently by a group of Sri Lankan industry experts and business chamber veterans, and aims to become the voice for Sri Lanka's industrial small and medium enterprises (ISMEs).