Colombo: A Chinese firm is to set up a cement plant in Hambantota where Beijing already controls the strategic port, in an indication of China’s increasing footprint in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Nalin Bandara, said the Chinese firm would set up its plant in the Hambantota Export Processing Zone, and added that this is the first time a Chinese cement company is entering the local market directly, Lanka Business Online reported.
“This Chinese company would mainly concentrate on the Sri Lankan market,” Bandara said.
“Even though, we have many manufacturers, almost 55 percent of the local consumption is imported. Therefore, there is an opportunity for a new manufacturer to market cement locally.”
He said that land allocation and environmental assessment for the cement plant have been completed, and the plant is expected to start production in May 2020.
The Chinese company is expected to source 40 percent of raw material locally and intends to increase it gradually.
Sri Lanka currently has several players active in the cement industry which caters to domestic demand. It also imports cement from various plants in neighboring countries.
Sri Lanka has leased Hambantota port to the state-run China Merchant Ports Holdings Ltd for a period of 99 years, a move that has caused concern in neighbouring India.