US government official says investments backed by its development finance agency could be offered to Sri Lanka
An official representing the United States government has reportedly said the US can offer investments backed by its development finance agency to Sri Lanka, which could be an alternative to Chinese loans.
“Investments backed by the US government provide a financially-sound alternative to state-led solutions that lead nations like Sri Lanka into debt traps,” Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) David Bohigian has been quoted as saying in the media.
OPIC is the US government’s development finance institution, a statement by the US embassy in Colombo said.
It is to be merged with a wing of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to create the US International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) that will increase the financial support that the US government provides to countries in the region.
The move comes in response to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.
“OPIC is committed to supporting projects that promote free and open societies while adhering to strong environmental and labor standards,” Bohigian has said.
“We look forward to partnering with Sri Lanka and other regional allies to identify opportunities for investment in ports and other infrastructure, which will fuel sustainable economic growth, create jobs, and leave countries better off.”
Historically, OPIC has invested US$ 118 million in Sri Lanka and currently has almost US$ 20 million invested across four projects, the embassy statement has further noted.
Bohigian and other US government officials visited Sri Lanka from October 3 to 5 to promote US investment in the region and strengthen cooperation with regional allies to drive economic growth and stability.
“The United States seeks to build strong, reciprocal, and balanced bilateral trade and investment relationships throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Colombo, Robert Hilton has said.
“We work with the Sri Lankan government to ensure that American companies are given the opportunity to compete for government tenders and that tenders are conducted fairly and free from corruption.”
The statement by the Executive Vice President of OPIC, David Bohigian indicates the importance placed by the US government on Sri Lanka. It is evident that Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean along with the interest shown by China in the island nation under its “Belt and Road” initiative has upped the value of Sri Lanka in the eyes of the world. With the US expressing its desire to bring in investments to Sri Lanka and become its development partner, there will be an expansion in the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. Therefore, foreign businesses in the US could explore business opportunities in Sri Lanka with confidence while businesses in other Asian countries wishing to do business with the US could do so by setting up base in Sri Lanka.
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