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.

The country of 20 million people, which sits off the southeastern coast of India, was singled out by the World Bank last year for having one of the most improved business environments globally. Sri Lanka jumped eight places, to 81st, in the bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business ranking, making it the second most improved nation after Poland. Authorities are working with the World Bank to further market reforms to attract more foreign investors with an eye to move further up the rankings.

Foreign direct investment exceeded $1.3 billion in 2012, up from $1 billion in 2011 and an average of just $200 million a year in the previous decade. “We would like to see FDI rise even higher,” Amunugama says. “We see opportunities in tourism, ports, processing and other value-added production.”

The authorities are also eager to promote the country’s private sector. The Colombo Stock Exchange, which has 283 listed companies with a combined market capitalization of $20 billion, has been one of the best performers in emerging markets in the past few years. Since the end of the civil war, the All Share Price index has more than doubled, from about 3,000 in 2009 to 6,201.68 on May 7 of this year.