ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Standard Chartered Bank is gearing up for more business from Chinese companies as mainland customers set up office in the island under the One Belt One Road intitiative, officials said.
Several big Chinese state-run groups like China Communications Constructions Company (CCCC), the parent of China Harbhour Engineering which is reclaiming the sea to build a new urban area, and leased a port in the South, and AVIC group is already in Sri Lanka.
CM Port has already build a container terminal in Colombo.
Sam Xu, Head of Transaction Banking at Standard Chartered in China led a delegation of customer relations officers who have been dealing with the parent companies to Colombo.
He says many customer firms are moving to Asia and Africa under China’s Belt and Road initiative and Standard Chartered is supporting them.
Initially it may be trade finance and advice on regulations. But other banking activities also pick up once the businesses start operating.
He says overall such business is growing about 30 percent a year at his unit since he began in 2015.
“In Sri Lanka the bigger equity transactions have been government-to-government,” says Standard Chartered’s Sri Lanka chief Jim McCabe.
“But we expect more firms to follow.”
McCabe says total business from Chinese firms at the moment is small, but activity will pick up.
Many manufacturing firms are expected to set up shop in an industrial zone in Hambantota in Sri Lanka’s South where CM Ports group has leased a port and a land.
Standard Chartered is setting up ‘China Desk’ in Colombo staffed with a senior Chinese speaking official.
Xu says Chinese officials who are still new to Sri Lanka will communicate better with a banker who speaks Chinese.
Along with Standard Chartered officials in Colombo they will also cope with cultural differences and avoid mis-understandings, he said. (Colombo/May04/2018)