Home / News / India /  India moves to counter growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka

NEW DELHI : India is stepping up exports of engineering goods and services alongside investments in key infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka as part of a larger exercise to strengthen its strategic presence in the southern neighbour and counter growing Chinese influence.

Infrastructure consultancy and engineering firm RITES Ltd, which is the Indian Railway’s rolling stock export arm, is increasing its presence in key infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. It has already supplied rolling stock and undertaken a few consultancy assignments.

RITES chairman and MD Rahul Mithal said a ministerial delegation from Sri Lanka visited India last month, following which a RITES delegation visited the island-nation last week.

“We had discussions across various infra sectors including highways, ports, airports, rail infra and upgradation. And going by positive signals from there, we hope to bag some of these projects," he said.

He said Sri Lanka is keen for Indian investment and participation in key infra projects and that RITES is well placed to make use of the opportunities flowing out from the country. “We, through RITES Videsh (a company unit), are looking at expanding our presence in Sri Lanka through a mix of rolling stock exports and consultancy assignments.

“There are no payment issues from Sri Lanka as they have just settled 100 crore from the 118 crore outstanding payment that got delayed as the country went through a serious economic crisis followed by political turmoil. Things have improved a lot now and its business back to usual now," said Mithal.

Since 2017, RITES has landed four big orders from Sri Lanka worth 1,400 crore. But, most of the orders were for railways. It is now expanding into other areas such as consultancy on highways, airports and ports.

After a Chinese spy ship berthed at Hambantota port in spite of its objections, India sharpened its development focus on Sri Lanka. RITES is expected to emerge as the initial vehicle for this and its projects could open up doors for a larger presence.

Already, the ministry of shipping has initiated talks with Sri Lanka to secure terminal rights for Indian companies in existing and upcoming ports. The power ministry is looking at transmission and generation projects while the Centre has extended line of credit arrangement there for other infra projects.

Mithal said that RITES Videsh operates projects in a dozen countries and is looking moving into regions like Latin America, Central Asia and Africa.

 

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