BOI Katunayake EPZ recognized in fDi Intelligence's Free Zones Awards for its reinvestment strategy

The Katunayake Export Processing Zone (EPZ), the largest zone in Sri Lanka operating under the purview of the Board of Investment (BOI) has secured a special honorable mention for its reinvestment strategy in the fDi Intelligence’s Free Zones Awards 2022, reinforcing its position as one of the region’s leading industrial and free zones. The UK-based fDi Intelligence is a foreign direct investment service by the Financial Times group. The 513-acre EPZ houses all types of enterprises servicing global brands since its inception in 1978.


fDi Intelligence’s Free Zones Awards 2022 recognizes and assesses the most promising free zones across the world and zones that offer the best investment environments and prospects for business expansion and economic development. The 9th edition was judged by both the Financial Times Specialist editorial team and a panel of independent judges for each region.


In his remarks, Alex Irwin-Hunt, one of the judges and global markets editor at fDi Intelligence stated,” This zone has focused on attracting reinvestments from existing companies. Four out of the 33 large tenants in the zone have initiated expansion with a pledged investment of $26.5m and almost 1000 employment opportunities.”


It is noteworthy that the Katunayake EPZ clinched this award in a backdrop where, the BOI is in the process of renewing and expediting its strategies in relation to reinvestment and thereby, encouraging and inviting existing investors to expand its business and operation in Sri Lanka.


Elucidating the reinvestment strategy, the BOI Executive Director (Investor Services) Mahinda Ramanayaka stated,” the BOI has adopted four strategies to promote reinvestment. Under the first strategy, the issues faced by the existing investors are recognized in order to find solutions. The second strategy focuses on identifying new investors through the goodwill and business network of existing investors. Under the third strategy, non-performing companies under the BOI are encouraged to review their business. Lastly, the fourth strategy encourages non-BOI companies to register under BOI,”


“Accordingly, the key objectives of the re-investment strategy are; to increase the FDI inflow, to assist the incorporation of new BOI ventures, to increase the capacity and productivity, and to assist the growth, diversification, and expansion of existing BOI enterprises,” Mr Ramanayaka mentioned.


“The BOI also conducts open facilitation dialogues for existing investors in respective sectors so that they could raise their concerns to BOI officials and provide suggestions for streamlining processes. The recently held discussion targeted the logistics sector where key players in the sector raised concerns and came out with proposals on how they can improve as they move forward amidst present challenges,” he added.


 “Existing investors can be considered brand ambassadors for the promotion of investment in Sri Lanka with a vivid understanding of the business environment and with considerable knowledge of the most attractive reasons for setting up projects in Sri Lanka. Existing investors can, thus, be a powerful voice in promoting reinvestment as well,” stated BOI Chairman Raja Edirisuriya.


Meanwhile, commenting on the recognition earned by Katunayake EPZ, BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone articulated,” This award is very prestigious for us, and a great incentive as we are accelerating our reinvestment strategy in line with the global trends to promote investment. As such, we are committed to sustaining the good work.”


“In this scenario, the BOI will serve as a catalyst for further reinvestment in Sri Lanka by setting up investor-friendly mechanisms to fast-track the approval and implementation of expansion projects,” she mentioned.


“Irrespective of the monumental challenges, free zones across the country showed great resilience and capacity which is evident in the global recognition earned by the Katunayake Zone. Hence, the officials deserve kudos for their efforts in promoting reinvestment in the zone,” she underlined.


Meanwhile, BOI Executive Director (Zone), M K D Lawrance expressing positive sentiments, stated “the past 18 months have been the most challenging in recent history for zones due to the restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and hardships stemming from economic downfall,”


 “As far as the reinvestment strategy pertaining to zones is concerned, we are looking at two strategies such as promoting and encouraging existing investors to expand their businesses within zones or outside zones and inviting enterprises outside zones to come and expand their businesses inside zones. In addition, we are encouraging investors to restart sick companies within zones, Mr Lawrance added.


The BOI is looking forward to further widening its investment strategy by attracting technology-driven investment. Innovation and sustainability will be the key focus of the future key players of the FDI category. The government of Sri Lanka will be focusing on said sector due to multifaceted reasons, such as the long-term viability of investment which not only brings the required forex for the country but mainly technology and the learning experience for the human capital of the country.