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Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles routes revived

By Hu Qing ( China Daily )

Updated: 2015-05-22

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In the first century BC, Sri Lanka was a significant sea trade hub as ships from Europe and Asia sailing on the Indian Ocean met at the island nation.

The east coast of Africa, Mauritius and the Seychelles were also vital stops for ships passing through the Cape of Good Hope with copra, cinnamon oil and marinated fish traded in the harbors.

As the east end of the Maritime Silk Road, the town of Banqiao in Jiaozhou Bay, Qingdao, welcomed merchants from South Asia, Africa and Europe, who brought silk, porcelain and tea through the flourishing port islands along the sea route back to their home countries.

Today, the ancient maritime trade route is being revived through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road development strategies.

From May 11 to 16, a delegation led by Party Chief Li Qun from Qingdao visited Mauritius, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka and signed a number of cooperation agreements to revitalize trade and investment with local enterprises. Themed 'The New Silk Road Business Dialogue', the delegation held a series of business activities in the three countries and signed cooperation agreements in sustainable development of the marine economy, tourism, ports and infrastructure, commercial property construction, e-commerce and home appliances.

"The ancient marine silk road flourished with ships coming frequently back and forth between Banqiao town in Qingdao and South Asia. Today, as China is taking the initiative to develop the One Belt One Road economic zone, trade and investment activities will surely experience another boom among the region," Li said.

Xavier Luc Duval, vice-prime minister and minister of finance and economic development of Mauritius, visited Qingdao two years ago for potential cooperation in home appliances, aquaculture, tourism and leisure projects.

Qingdao's Luhaifeng Group has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Mauritius in joint deep-sea fisheries.

More Qingdao enterprises, including Jifa Group and Ruichang Cotton Industrial Company, are looking to work with Mauritius and signed a memorandum of understanding during Li's visit. Li said Mauritius is one of the most important nations in Africa, which is a key part of Qingdao's Belt and Road Initiative and he believes "mutual investment and trading between Qingdao and Mauritius will lead to a win-win result".

In the Seychelles, Jacqueline Moustache-Belle, mayor of Victoria, welcomed the Qingdao delegation. She signed a letter of intent to build a friendly city partnership with Qingdao.

"Victoria and Qingdao are both significant port cities and have strong trade capability, we hope the letter of intent will be fulfilled to concrete action which will lead to benefits for people living in the two cities," Li said.

The delegation visited Victoria Harbor and learned about the development of its infrastructure.

Marco Francis, chairman of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Seychelles is one of the most attractive investment destinations and its local commerce and industry leaders are willing to enhance cooperation with Qingdao and make the Seychelles a springboard for Qingdao businesses to invest in Africa.

Qingjian Group signed a memorandum of understanding with the Capital Management Consulting Corporation of Seychelles.

Their cooperation will include real estate development, tourism and trading.

Haier, Hisense and Aucma, leading home appliance manufacturers based in Qingdao, signed agreements with their counterparts in Sri Lanka and the Seychelles, including Abans and Fairmart. Cooperation in production and distribution of washing machines, refrigerators and freezers will be conducted among the enterprises.

Qingdao Port reached an agreement with the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka for future cooperation in shipping and trade.

Rubber Valley from Qingdao and C&T announced a strategic cooperation agreement in cross border e-commerce platform development.

Sri Lanka and Qingdao have had close historic ties since the fourth century AC when the Chinese monk Fa Xian landed in Mount Lau in Qingdao after a pilgrimage to Sri Lanka for Buddhist scriptures, Li said. "A new era of cooperation will provide a strong boost to each other's economic and social development," Li added.


Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles routes revived

Qingdao will strengthen cooperation with countries from South Asia, Africa and Europe in areas including real estate development, tourism and trade.

(China Daily 05/22/2015 page12)