Bank of China opened its first branch in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo on Wednesday evening.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was the Chief Guest at the ceremony said the opening of the Colombo branch was an important step in strengthening the island's economy and it opened a new chapter in the modern history of bilateral relations.
"The Bank of China is opening in Sri Lanka at a time when Colombo city is transforming into a megapolis. Bank of China has a crucial role to play in helping this island by strengthening our local businesses while also being able to attract more Chinese investments into the country," Wickremesinghe said.
The prime minister added Bank of China's success was also a testament to the rapid economic growth of China in the past three decades and while it was the fourth largest bank globally, it would not be too long before it emerged as the leading bank in the world.
Governor of the Sri Lankan Central Bank Indrajit Coomaraswamy, speaking at the ceremony, hailed the entry of the Bank of China into Colombo as a "major landmark" in the history of the Sri Lankan economy.
He said the bank, with its large network of branches in China and other parts of the world, will not only help expand trade in Sri Lanka but help small and medium enterprises grow and tie up with manufacturers overseas as part of international supply chains.
Chairman of the Bank of China Wang Xiquan said that the hundred-year-old institution now has 600 branches overseas and links with 1,600 financial institutions across the world.
He said, the opening of its Colombo branch will mark the beginning of a new era for the Chinese financial industry to serve Sri Lanka and its Colombo branch was an opportunity to closely focus on the overall strategic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.
Chinese Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan described Sri Lanka as a "time tested friend" of China and thanked Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for the support he had given to set up a branch in Colombo.