Sri Lanka’s long civil war stymied development in the island nation for years. But four years after the defeat of a separatist rebellion by the Tamil Tigers, the economy is booming and government officials, looking to make up for lost time, are actively courting foreign investors to sustain the momentum.

Colombo is offering a number of tax incentives to investors in the finance, transport, tourism and manufacturing industries in an effort to turn the country into a major trading hub for South Asia and a gateway to the vast Indian market next door, Sarath Amunugama, senior minister for International Monetary Cooperation, tells Institutional Investor.

“Sri Lanka is not on the radar for most global investors,” Amunugama acknowledges, “but it is ideally located to be a financial and trading center. Just like Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore, Sri Lanka is small, manageable, efficient. We haven’t built the ambience for that kind of financial architecture, for offshore banking, but we have ambitions to.”

Amunugama spoke on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting in Delhi, which ended Sunday. The ADB forecasts that the Sri Lankan economy will expand by 6.8 percent this year and 7.2 percent in 2014. Besides being a major producer of tea, rubber, sugar, cinnamon and other agricultural commodities, Sri Lanka has vibrant textiles and tourism industries.

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