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Jon Springer
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I write about emerging and frontier markets in Asia. I now primarily contribute work to Forbes Asia. My most recent work and my complete bio can be found on Forbes Asia's site: If it is easier, you can find my recent work sorted by country on this... More
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  • My, you do get around! :-)


    12 Oct 2012, 03:38 PM Reply Like
  • Indeed. You seem to be a veritable vagabond Jon. Thanks for setting this blog up. I'm outta here for the week end but I may poke around in the links you provided over the week end. I'll give you a toast (Jack O'l number seven with a beer chaser.) to a safe and productive journey.
    12 Oct 2012, 03:49 PM Reply Like
  • I'm glad you are looking into the Sri Lanka situation, Jon. If other traders are looking into it, so should we, I figure.
    Your blog should prove to be very interesting.
    12 Oct 2012, 05:04 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks for that link VB.


    This is one of the things that really piqued my interest in Sri Lanka.


    Folks I spoke to indicated the Chinese are investing a lot in port cities; and indications *may* point toward Sri Lanka trying to become *the* major intermediary port between Singapore and Dubai.


    Map of Hambantota's location
    (there is also a major port in Colombo that is expanding, I believe)


    Here's a map of global shipping lanes that shows this makes sense
    12 Oct 2012, 05:15 PM Reply Like
  • The only drawback I can think of offhand is the tsunami risk. Perhaps they could build an artificial island or reef in front of the harbor there for some protection.
    12 Oct 2012, 05:30 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Long June 2010 article on the possible risk of future tsunamis and earthquakes . The upshot to me is that historically these issues are infrequent, but the results of changes in the earth's tectonic plates are not yet known.


    Post Tsunami Survey for Hazard Map preparation in Sri Lanka by United Nations focusing on Galle (southwestern town - 2 hours south of Colombo; Hambanotata - new port city in southeast primarily financed by Chinese; and Trincomalee - natural port in northeast)


    April 2011 blog suggesting Sri Lanka look to Japan for tsunami mitigation ideas
    14 Oct 2012, 06:05 PM Reply Like
  • Have a good trip Jon!
    12 Oct 2012, 06:24 PM Reply Like
  • Sri Lanka, wow, the kingdom of lions or Simhalauipa where buddha himself made his first revelation 25 centuries or more ago after his nirvana, though I have to find a map to pinpoint it. Have a nice trip.
    12 Oct 2012, 10:37 PM Reply Like
  • JS,
    There are some fine gems mined there. Some very special saphires as well as other gems.
    13 Oct 2012, 02:51 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Yes. The gem center is in Ratnapura.


    The "Blue Belle" sapphire on the Queen of England's crown comes from here, as does the "Star of India" on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York.


    Most exotically, they seem to have an orange-pink sapphire called "padmaraga" which are only found in Sri Lanka.


    (things I learned from a locally bought $5 guidebook)
    14 Oct 2012, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • Hi JS,
    I know the pink/orange sapphire as padparadsha, my spelling may be off.
    15 Oct 2012, 01:04 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Stilldazed,


    1) Based on the quality of English in my $5 guide book, it is my spelling that may be off.


    2) From my $24 Lonely Planet guide book, a discussion of the various names the island has been called through the centuries included this: "Muslim traders talked of Serendib, meaning 'Island of Jewels' in Arabic. The word Serendib became the root of the word 'serendipity' - the art of making happy and unexpected discoveries..."


    3) The World Trade Center (of Colombo) has two floors of gem shops... more gem shops abound.
    15 Oct 2012, 07:34 AM Reply Like
  • Here's a list of players in the Sri Lankan gem industry.
    15 Oct 2012, 01:56 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » So, gem exports of $15.6 million last year were 1/4 of 1% of GDP ($60 billion).
    15 Oct 2012, 07:29 PM Reply Like
  • JS,
    Amazingly low numbers for such an important supplier of gems.
    16 Oct 2012, 02:50 AM Reply Like
  • Jon


    Great initiative !


    Perhaps you can read this article below. It is about a 24yr old Dutch graduate who started his career as a equity analist with TKS Securities at the Colombo Stock Exchange. It is in Dutch but of course you can easily translate it online.


    If not, I can always easily translate it for you.

    14 Oct 2012, 03:08 PM Reply Like
  • He might also be an interesting source of gathering
    additional knowledge ?!
    14 Oct 2012, 03:15 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks Schumpeter. Google translator made that into a pretty decent read.


    I would like to get in touch, but his LinkedIn profile shows TKS is now a former employer
    14 Oct 2012, 05:42 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Historical chart of Sri Lanka's GDP growth:


    While the narrative in most resources I look at indicate the end of the civil war in 2009 has instigated serious GDP growth, when I look at this chart it seems to start after crises in 2001, although the end of the war has accelerated growth.


    From WikiPedia - - "In 2001, Sri Lanka faced bankruptcy, with debt reaching 101% of GDP. The impending currency crisis was averted after the country reached a hasty ceasefire agreement with the LTTE and brokered substantial foreign loans. After 2004 the UPFA government has concentrated on mass production of goods for domestic consumption such as rice, grain and other agricultural products."




    "Economic growth has been uneven in the ensuing years as the economy faced a multitude of global and domestic economic and political challenges. Overall, average annual GDP growth was 5.2% over 1991-2000."


    "In 2001, however, GDP growth was negative 1.4%--the first contraction since independence. The economy was hit by a series of global and domestic economic problems and affected by terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and the United States."


    "The crises exposed the fundamental policy failures and structural imbalances in the economy and the need for reforms. The year ended in parliamentary elections in December, which saw the election of a pro-capitalism party to Parliament, while the socialism oriented Sri Lanka Freedom Party retained the Presidency."


    "The government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of the United National Party has indicated a strong commitment to economic and social sector reforms, deregulation, and private sector development."


    "In 2002, the economy experienced a gradual recovery. Early signs of a peace dividend were visible throughout the economy—Sri Lanka has been able to reduce defense expenditures and begin to focus on getting its large, public sector debt under control."


    "In addition, the economy has benefited from lower interest rates, a recovery in domestic demand, increased tourist arrivals, a revival of the stock exchange, and increased foreign direct investment (FDI)."


    "In 2002, economic growth reached 4%, aided by strong service sector growth. The agricultural sector of the economy staged a partial recovery."
    14 Oct 2012, 08:13 PM Reply Like
  • It looks like Sri Lanka is looking forward to some rewarding trading possibilities.
    14 Oct 2012, 10:19 PM Reply Like
  • Here are some possible North American contacts with an interest in Sri Lanka.
    14 Oct 2012, 10:25 PM Reply Like
  • Sri Lanka provides graphite, a valuable mineral used in a variety of modern technologies.
    15 Oct 2012, 12:49 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks VB. Thank you for all the good data and great posts.


    This graphite company - Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Limited - does not seem to be publicly traded.


    Meeting with a brokerage, a unit investment trust, and a large local conglomerate today.
    15 Oct 2012, 07:43 PM Reply Like
  • KGLL is one of the government owned enterprises. They must think their mine has national significance for it to be owned that way.
    There doesn't seem to be any other miners on the Colombo Stock Exchange except for some gas providers at this time.
    15 Oct 2012, 09:36 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » According to the U.S. State Dept. Investment Climate report, there has been some back and forth in privatization-national... of business.


    United National Party is currently the minority party, last held power from 2002-2004, and is more pro-business


    Sri Lanka Freedom Party, in power since 2005, leaders of ending the war with the LTTE, and more socialist leaning... under their guidance, GDP has skyrocketed. (2004 GDP was $20 billion, 2011 GDP was $60 billion)
    15 Oct 2012, 10:00 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Non-investing thought for the day. If you come to Sri Lanka for business meetings, don't bring a jacket. I have yet to see a single person in an office wearing a jacket. Ties sometimes. Jackets, no.
    16 Oct 2012, 06:55 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Tourism growth.


    800,000 tourists in 2011
    estimates are for 1 million tourists in 2012


    Compare 2011 tourism numbers of other countries viewed as comparable benchmarks for tourism growth goals:
    2.4 million tourists in Bali
    2.9 million tourists in Cambodia
    6 million tourists in Vietnam
    17 Oct 2012, 06:42 AM Reply Like
  • Sri Lanka has a lot of sights to see and appreciate.
    17 Oct 2012, 12:47 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Port growth.


    At Colombo port...


    Current capacity is 4.5 million TUs (transportation units).
    Currently at 95% of capacity or full capacity, depending on who you ask.


    Chinese company building 1 of possible 3 additional terminals at Colombo port. Chinese portion completing in 2014. Other 2 additional terminals open for bidding at a later date when the government decides there is a need.


    Chinese terminal will be able to handle supertankers and other of the super-large ships that current port cannot adequately accommodate.


    If all three terminals added, port will have 15 million TU capacity.


    Also, Chinese are doing a land reclamation project next to the port planned to add 600 acres of land to Colombo in the business district.


    Hambantota port is currently primarily an industrial port and not a container port. Refueling is also possible at Hambantota. Also, all cars delivered to Sri Lanka now go to Hambantota (but there are very few cars coming here currently as there was stimulus in recent years that encouraged buying cars which was recently reversed to keep the economy from overheating).


    Second phase of development for Hambantota would add container facilities. May be 5 years from now. Not sure yet.


    Colombo and Hambantota are 11 kilometers from almost all major shipping routes that pass from Western Asia to Africa & the Middle East.


    Additionally, many shipments to/from India, Pakistan & Bangladesh go by smaller boats to/from Colombo. India has a lack of deep water ports, and locals claim that Indian ports are not efficiently managed. Regardless, it seems reasonable that boats transporting good along major shipping lanes would drop off things for India/Pakistan/Bangladesh in Colombo, and pick up other goods from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh in Colombo, and carry on their way.


    Lastly, there is also the natural port of Tricomalee, one of the three largest natural ports in the world, in the northeast of Sri Lanka. It could become significant, but unsure how it develops yet.
    17 Oct 2012, 07:02 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Ports... more...


    Sri Lanka is the midway point between Singapore and Europe for ships transporting goods along that route.


    As I talk to more folks, some are less sure about India not being able to develop its own deep water ports and make them efficient.
    17 Oct 2012, 03:37 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Ports (CORRECTION)


    Sri Lanka is the midway point for shipping between China and Europe (not Singapore and Europe)


    Apologies. I shouldn't post at 1 am after drinking, even if it was just a little.
    17 Oct 2012, 10:14 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Ports... more yet...


    Port development is planned in Galle (2 hours south of Colombo near the southern beaches) and Trincomalee (east coast, to the north, natural bay) for tourism


    Oluvil port (east coast, central) is being developed for the fishing industry


    Kankasanthurei port is also being developed (and this is a note to myself to figure out what the plan for it is) (far north, in Jaffna)
    21 Oct 2012, 11:53 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Hambantota...


    The president of Sri Lanka is from Hambantota; his son is a member of parliament from the region as well.
    22 Oct 2012, 01:39 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Oil and gas.


    Recently Cairn Lanka (a division of Cairn India drilled 3 holes off the southwest coast of Sri Lanka (in Sri Lanka territory). 1 had nothing. 2 had natural gas.


    Most of the plots in Sri Lankan waters are still owned by the government. Some folks think there will be more natural gas found. Some think that the geological indications of the gas finding indicate there will be oil as well.


    This is a development that is years away. It may be more hope than reality. If it becomes reality, it would be a bonus on top of already healthy GDP growth.


    GDP is estimated to grow on average in excess of 6.5% from now through 2050 without oil and gas being found.
    17 Oct 2012, 07:08 AM Reply Like
  • Here's a new development on Sri Lanka's oil and gas.
    This should help the country to become more economically self- sufficient.
    15 Sep 2013, 02:04 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Bold quote of the day comes from Sri Lanka business magazine LMD, p. 97 of October 2012 edition, a profile piece on D. Eassuwaren, a person in the tea plantation business (chairman of his company), on how the business environment of Sri Lanka has changed since the 1960s.


    Mr. Eassuwaren concludes the interview: "Challenges always arise, but blaming the government, people or community is not the answer. Rethink, re-group and re-energise... Sri Lankans are very clever people. There's nothing to stop us from reaching or even surpassing Singapore in the next 10 years. However, there must be an attitudinal change. We have the capacity and the competencies, but lack the will to work hard. In my opinion, there's no unemployment in Sri Lanka. There are enough opportunities for young people who are willing to get their hands dirty."
    17 Oct 2012, 07:45 AM Reply Like
  • Surpass Singapore in the next 10 years? That means their GDP per capita needs to increase well over 10x within 10 years. That seems highly unlikely. Bold quote indeed.
    10 Nov 2012, 12:43 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Absolutely. Not happening. Posted more for the dreamy vision. There are opportunities in Sri Lanka.


    Just flying in and out of Singapore on a layover between flights on this last trip was wowwing. So many ships the size of islands milling about. I knew it was there, but so very different to see it from overhead for the first time with my own eyes.
    10 Nov 2012, 01:44 PM Reply Like
  • I'm quite interested in Sri Lanka as well. I'm already looking to diversify my exposure and network outside of Mongolia, as I am realizing that my biggest advantage will be getting capital from China and building businesses and investments in emerging markets like Mongolia.


    I will be in Shanghai for a week for the Shanghai Finance & Money Fair on 11/23 to 11/25. I will also be going to Singapore for a week right before Christmas. I can't wait!!!
    10 Nov 2012, 01:59 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » would love if you blogged about it and posted a link here...


    I keep having this very speculative idea of trying to organize a Buddhist Country Investment Summit and or Economic Forum. A lot of countries with fast growing economic in the coming decades have this common bond that could be explored...


    Countries with 50% or more Buddhist populations include:
    Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Bhutan, Myanmar, Vietnam, et al


    FYI, these folks will be arriving in Mongolia right before you go to Shanghai for the annual SEACEN meeting in Mongolia
    10 Nov 2012, 02:12 PM Reply Like
  • It may not be long till I begin traveling to Thailand and Vietnam. When I do, I will definitely look to write a blog. Perhaps I will begin with my trips to Shanghai and Singapore.


    Mongolian food can be rather bland and it's very difficult to find nice spicy dishes. I'm sure I won't have a problem in Thailand!
    10 Nov 2012, 02:21 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Tea. You may not want to come here for the drinking of it.


    So, I've been wondering since I got here about this bitter somewhat burnt tasting tea I find myself drinking most mornings in my hotel.


    Yesterday, visited the tea plantation area and got my answer. The British trained/encouraged the Sri Lankans to export their best teas. Among about 8 grades of tea made in Sri Lanka, the type primarily drunk in Sri Lanka is called "Dust" tea - dark brown & bitter.
    21 Oct 2012, 09:17 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Economic dreaming.


    4 things that could boost average GDP growth above an anticipated average of 6-7% (for the next 30+years):


    - Major growth in use of ports (Colombo & Hambantota) for international shipping... possible... will have to track incremental development over next two decades...


    - Building a bridge between India and Sri Lanka. Its possible, but only talked about speculatively. Map to see the distance to bridge


    - Oil and gas discoveries in Sri Lanka's coastal waters. There has been some discoveries of natural gas recently. Nothing major yet. Speculative dreaming, but possible with India finding oil in the same basin (on the other side of the imaginary line in the ocean where its Indian property and not Sri Lankan).


    - Some speculate Sri Lanka could become a gambling center for the South Asian peninsula, with gambling illegal in India, Pakistan, etc. Its possible. Some speculate the 500 or 600 acres of land that will be reclaimed for downtown Colombo from the ocean may be used for this.
    21 Oct 2012, 09:29 PM Reply Like
  • It looks like some other countries besides India are perhaps interested in potential Sri Lankan oil production, the news of which is followed with this list of links.
    21 Oct 2012, 11:21 PM Reply Like
  • Sri Lanka has geothermal resources, too. If they could be developed in an effective manner, then the country should have some extra energy to sustain its GDP growth rate in the future.
    22 Oct 2012, 12:10 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Not any mention of geothermal energy in any meetings I've had to-date.


    However, every bit helps.


    The price of oil has come up multiple times as a primary risk to the health of the economy. Before the current embargo, a lot of Sri Lanka's oil came from Iran, a country with which it had a line of credit for buying oil.
    22 Oct 2012, 01:42 AM Reply Like
  • Here is one assessment of Sri Lanka's ongoing efforts to create a global scale shipping hub for the main sea lanes passing by its ports.
    Perhaps the most interesting idea mentioned is that India routes 40% of its transshipment traffic through Sri Lankan ports. So it is not just the significance of the country's position on the global maritime highway taken into consideration, it is that Sri Lankan ports already serve as a regional hub for the Indian Subcontinent.
    24 Oct 2012, 04:12 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Yes, transshipment between Sri Lanka and India is sizable and can be expanded. This has come up in mutliple meetings.


    Would need to go to India to verify (and I'm not doing it this year or next), but some say that India doesn't have sufficient deep water ports and/or that the deep water ports they have are managed inefficiently. Thus,it is easier for small ships to take the transshipments to/from India... and ship things by larger boats to/from Sri Lanka.


    Obviously, if this trajectory continues, the expansion of the Indian economy alone will generate significant expansion for the ports in Sri Lanka (and then you have to add transshipment traffic destined for other South Asia penisula countries, Pakistan, etc - though India is the seriously big and fast-growing economy).
    24 Oct 2012, 07:37 PM Reply Like
  • I see what you mean that India has no very large ports to speak of.
    25 Oct 2012, 01:56 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » The issue is the depth of the water, and its ability to handle the biggest ships. I see on that map that they have zero ports categorized as "very large" but I'm unclear if by "very large" if they're referring to water depth and/or ship size.


    i.e. I'm just getting to learn this stuff, and I don't want to make assumptions.
    25 Oct 2012, 02:51 AM Reply Like
  • That source categorizes five ports in California as being very large:
    San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego. I'm familiar with all five of them so I'll take it to mean that very large category refers to both the water depth, dredged or natural, and the ability of a port to handle cargoes from large ships.
    25 Oct 2012, 10:38 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Perfect VB. Thanks :-)
    25 Oct 2012, 10:45 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Factoid that may only interest me. Cost of postage for a postcard mailed to the U.S. -> 19 cents (25 Sri Lanka Rupeees)
    23 Oct 2012, 02:20 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Please note.


    Days with Full Moons are national holidays in Sri Lanka.


    Additionally, when the Full Moon falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, some folks take 4 day weekends leaving businesses with minimal staffs on the related Mondays and Fridays.


    Something to keep in mind for those who may travel here for business or investments.
    23 Oct 2012, 12:52 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Staying at a hotel on the south coast in Koggala tonight. Took a one day trip to Galle because almost all the ex-pat real estate guys are based in Galle. Managed to talk about real estate opportunities throughout the country; filled in some gaps from prior conversations about real estate last week.


    Drove the local roads south from Colombo to Galle (will take the highway back tomorrow). Saw some remnants of tsunami damage and memorials to the tsunami along the way, even though things are recovered.


    In any case, staring out from the balcony of my hotel southward, there is a steady stream of lights from ships. They're there every day.


    In the morning, I'm told I should be able to see some men stilt fishing; I can see their stilts in the moon light.


    The ocean is nice and loud; waves roaring ashore. Nice sound. Going to sleep with the sliding doors open - bugs be damned.


    For the umpteenth time today, I was told that Singapore came and studied Sri Lanka in the 1960s as its model. Then the civil war came and Sri Lanka fell backwards while Singapore leapt forward. There's more nuances and twists to the story than that, but it comes up a lot.


    This is where I am tonight:


    This is what stilt fishing looks like:
    24 Oct 2012, 01:32 PM Reply Like
  • Hi JS,
    I am enjoying your notes and the virtual tour. I was just curious, looking at the map, is there a lot of ship traffic from Australia with the live stock (sheep) or any other products bound for the Middle East that stop in port? Whooee, you can smell those ships from miles away.
    24 Oct 2012, 03:10 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Stilldazed, that's the kind of note one likes to read when waking up at 4:30 am. Always good to start the day with a laugh. All livestock smelled during this trip has been in near proximity and have yet to smell any livestock wafting toward me from the ocean in the distance - LOL.


    This is as good a place as any to add that Sri Lanka is self-sufficient for food production, and I believe can improve its agricultural exports.


    They do still import some dairy, but have a plan to cease to need importing dairy in the next few years.


    They do need to import wheat/bread, but they've encouraged the population to substitute local grains and traditional food (e.g. rice) for bread, and my driver/guide tells me the population has been successfully reducing its intake of breads/wheat.


    I have had the same driver/guide for all 3 days of my road trips; weekend and midweek trip to Galle - would not want to drive these roads myself... would not save that much money over having a driver... would not know where to stop to eat... would not have had someone to talk to and learn things from... would not be as masterful in the art of using the invisible passing lane in the middle of the road... and they drive on the British side of the road which, on busy roads, is another layer of challenge.
    24 Oct 2012, 07:32 PM Reply Like
  • "invisible passing lane in the middle of the road... "


    Sounds just like India. I rode a Royal Enfield Bullet across Rajasthan five years ago. It was a learning experience.


    The way the traffic flows smoothly with the extreme variety of conveyances, from donkeys and camels, bicycles, scooters with an entire family perched on them, up to multiton Tata trucks, is astounding.


    We were fortunate to have the best Enfield mechanics in Delhi following us in a chase vehicle for when we might need a minor roadside rebuild:
    25 Oct 2012, 09:43 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Smaturin,


    Similar I think, but I'm pretty sure India is more intense and dense.


    Its usually the proximity of the oncoming bus or truck while passing a van that's passing a tuk tuk that kind of gets me on a two lane road. (Some animals in the road, but less frequent than expected.)


    Thanks for sharing the great photos.
    25 Oct 2012, 09:51 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Closing strong... and tired...


    Opened an SIA account today at a bank (explanation below)


    Met with Central Bank


    Meeting with one more private equity guy at 5pm... leave for airport at 8pm...


    SIA account (Securities Investment Account) is the type of bank account foreigners must have to be able to move their money both in *and* out of the country to invest in the stock market... which will subsequently require a CDS account with a brokerage (Central Depository Systems account) or multiple brokerages


    Alternatively, if one wants to invest in Fixed Deposits (what they call CDs), you must open a SFIDA (Special Foreign Investment Deposit Account) to be able to get your money both in *and* out of the country


    SIA account requires a minimum of 5000 ruppees remain in cash in the account at all times (less than $50)


    SFIDA account requires a minimum investment of US$10,000 (current one year interest rates are over 14% for Fixed Deposits I'm told; there are other ways to invest in fixed income via an SIA account both directly in the market and via unit investment trusts (which really are the equivalent of U.S. mutual funds))


    SIA and SFIDA accounts can be opended from abroad with any of a number of local banks. Most complicated part for U.S. investors will be explaining if you need correpsondent bank information. The rest of the forms are pretty straight forward once you make contact with a bank.


    Got all that? No? ... don't worry... I'll put it into more detail when I write up an investing guide...
    26 Oct 2012, 06:59 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » I go back to this list of top 10 countries by GDP growth through 2050 often and reflect and ask myself questions.



    (there are other such lists, like page 20 of this PWC report


    What countries are not on the list that could be? (Myanmar, Libya if last year is the start point, where else?)


    Are there better places where investment performance will be top 10 even though GDP growth is not?


    Even if all the countries on the list perform as expected, are they investable? Can someone with $10,000, $100,000, or 10 million invest and make money in Nigeria? The last one, sure - with $10 million to invest, one can usually find a way to make. The others - $10,000 or $100,000 - are more chalenging and I don't know if you can really make money investing those amount in a lot of these countries regardless of outstanding GDP growth.


    One thing I feel after my trip is that on this list of 10 countries, Sri Lanka has the strongest banking and accounting institutions of any country on that list. Do these institutions still have room for improvement? Definitely. But...


    In both frontier and emerging markets, good practices in accounting, corporate governance and banking are at a premium. Sri Lanka has an edge in these areas which I think makes it more investable.


    However, I just left. I probably need a few weeks for the enthusiasm that comes from being somewhere - and talking to lots of people who tell you everything gooda about it - to calm down; verify my thinking.




    Also, any input/thoughts on where I should go next (beyond return trips to Sri Lanka & Mongolia)? (i.e what country's potential growth story interests you?)


    If I get the job that's still pending, I'm limited to Asia for work purposes... if I don't... then the world's open.
    28 Oct 2012, 01:06 AM Reply Like
  • Hi JS,
    I think that the rule of law is very important in making a decision on whether a country is worth investing or not. Mongolia is iffy and so is Malaysia (Lynas) at this point.


    To my thinking (no, I haven't researched yet) Sri Lanka is familiar with English (or western) law and understands about the rule of law and the need for consistent government decisions. I don't see confiscation of investments for nationalization becoming a major problem in Sri Lanka, JMHO.


    For more potential targets of interest? Cambodia and Myanmar come to mind as having some potential.
    28 Oct 2012, 01:33 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Stilldazed,


    Thanks for the response.


    Agree with your comments on rule of law.


    Sri Lanka's rule of law by all accounts is a maze with some need for revision as there are aspects of Roman, Dutch, and English law surviving.


    Nationalization in Sri Lanka is generally not a risk. The only times nationalization has been an issue:


    - when the now minority UNP was in government from 2002 to 2004, they privatized some state-run companies which were subsequently re-nationalized by Sri Lanka's Freedom Party (in power since 2005)


    - there are some laws that the state can take over poorly run businesses and poorly managed properties; on the whole I think these laws have been used fairly and reasonably; but there are a few cases the U.S. state department's Investment Climate report questions


    - land ownership is restriced to 50 acres; this limitation was put into place back in the early 1970s (if I recall correctly) and did negatively impact some large plantation owners at the time; however, this is an old issue that doesn't impact the current stability of the law


    I want to research on my own a bit more data on the banking and accounting institutions of Sri Lanka when I get home. Banking institutions date back to the mid 1800s. One person said that Sri Lanka has the largest number of English qualified accountants in the world outside of the U.K. (either CIMA or ACCA qualified) - but I haven't fact checked that yet (and probably should be sight-seeing in Hong Kong at the moment).


    As for Sri Lanka consistency of policy, there are not elections again for a few more years and most of the general population seems to be happy with the job the ruling Freedom Party is doing. The UNP is supposed to be more business friendly, but I think the Freedom Party is quite possibly managing the economy better.The JVP, which is currently smaller than the other two parties, would be the party that would pose risk to investors and likely try to nationalize other businesses. Thus, I think investment risk from political developments is low, but like most any place, its possible.
    28 Oct 2012, 02:29 AM Reply Like
  • Jon, Springer: Greetings. As you indicated there is substantial difference in deploying $10M as opposed to $10K or even $100K. Smaller investment stakes can get bogged down in liquidity traps more readily than larger amounts. Since I'm not on the $10M league I tend to play ADRs like SSGDY in Indonesia or VIVO in Brazil. Currently I'm investigating opportunities in the Congo as I think there may be good opportunities there going forward. Everything is dependent on the election results of course. Have you uncovered any interesting ADRs on your trip?
    28 Oct 2012, 07:12 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Only company trading outside Sri Lanka I uncovered was Virtusa (VRTU), a tech company. Didn't get in too much detail about it because its not really a vehicle that will capture Sri Lanka's economic growth.


    Some folks said the largest publicly traded company in the country - John Keellls - used to trade some shares in Luxembourg. However, it doesn't now. Down the road, Keellls, and a few others, could trade abroad, but they don't now.


    The simplest way for investing less than 25k or so in Sri Lanka is probably to open a unit investment trust, which is essentially a local mutual fund. There's about 8 different fund families with various ways to invest in Sri Lanka's equity market. Fees are like typical mutual fund fees. However, they're all in Sri Lanka and come with currency risk and the need to open an SIA account first (a bank account for foreigners to invest in the market).
    28 Oct 2012, 07:30 PM Reply Like
  • Nice website to keep up with foreign buying on Sri Lankan stock exchange. Daily reviews on foreign in-and outflows on individual stock level:
    29 Jun 2013, 07:11 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » CNN discusses Blue Whales off south coast of Sri Lanka


    article with additional video interview by local marine biologist:


    The major shipping highway she is concerned about has been a major shipping highway as long as humans have been boating; so its a bit of a stretch to suggest there are some new risks to the blue whale's ecosystem; although she raises some legitimate concerns about regulatory governance of boat's distance from whales. Moreover, seems like there could be environmentalist challenges to port development, particularly Hambantota's (which is on the south coast); she has backing from TED and CNN.
    28 Oct 2012, 03:10 AM Reply Like
  • Jon,


    Indeed there are some environmental challenges. I live near the port of Rotterdam and in The Netherlands we (normally) don't have any whales. Though last year we had two occasions in which a whale was speared/ dead on the bow of a containership. Foremost in Sri Lanka these environmental issues might pose a challenge. Last year I saw the BBC tv-series "India Ocean with Simon Reeve". The episode on Sri Lanka focussed upon rare, endangered sea turtles whose beach was jeopardized by a newly developed port. Forget which harbour it was...but I think you can still check it at BBC iPlayer.


    Which country ?
    There are so many (Asian) countries that have my interest.
    But I agree on Cambodia and Myanmar.


    Have a nice day !
    28 Oct 2012, 10:41 AM Reply Like
  • Vietnam is another possibility but may have political liabilities.
    28 Oct 2012, 07:14 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » so after talking to quite a few guys in emerging and frontier markets during the last few days at the Mongolian Invesment Summit... here's a list of interesting places in Asia...


    - Vietnam... within the next 6 months or so... P/E ratios are low... banking sector is finishing up getting bombed out (but sill has room down)... potential prognosis for country to emerge from creative destruction healthy and renewed


    - some like the Phillipines, some like Indonesia... positive views of Phillipines are more general... while positive views on Indonesia are in pockets (areas outside Jakarta, an intriguing bond issue, etc.)


    - Bangladesh came up a few times. With two different people, when I asked them about it, I seemed to go up in their estimation just for thinking to ask about it... quite off the radar still... low wage factory and call center jobs are rotating into there as the next "cheaper" place... significant GDP growth expected... don't know much more... just a feeling...


    - Papua New Guinea... lots of resources, infrastructure challenges to get the resources out


    - Myanmar... mucky... no one knows what the investment laws will be exactly... some are raising capital... but few are deploying capital... heavy Chinese influence already... still has some civil war issues in north...


    In Africa:


    Zambia gets a thumbs up


    Egypt gets a stay away


    Mozambique gets a lot of love


    Namibia looks good, but a way to play it isn't clear


    Madagascar is open for business after a civil war. They have some oil and gas on land.


    (probably more... its 3 am... I'll add more as I think of it)
    31 Oct 2012, 03:06 PM Reply Like
  • Laos entering WTO ?

    31 Oct 2012, 07:12 PM Reply Like
  • It is a pitty there aren't many ways to play Rwanda.
    Many Africans look high upon Rwanda's economic progress.



    31 Oct 2012, 07:41 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Quite right Schumpeter. Someone did say to me Rwanda was one of the best and most stable African countries to invest in. I forgot that one.
    31 Oct 2012, 08:06 PM Reply Like
  • Tanzania has enjoyed a positive investment climate so far but that could change.
    31 Oct 2012, 08:10 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Talked to one private equity guy who runs some big funds. He has family doing aid work in Zanzibar (the "zan" in Tanzania). We talked about it being an interesting place to live and delightful to visit, but no mention of it being a place to invest.


    However, he was one of the best investors I met, one of those people that really has figure out the whole buy low, sell high, thing (sounds funny, but really, how many people are all that good at it?).
    31 Oct 2012, 08:15 PM Reply Like
  • Perhaps the rare earth miners operating in Tanzania, Peak Resources and Montero, will have more to say about the country's investment prospects.
    Africa is interesting for its lower cost resource valuations. Sri Lanka may prove to be a good customer for African products as it becomes more prosperous.
    31 Oct 2012, 08:45 PM Reply Like
  • My view going forward is that the Sri Lanka / India relationship will be very similar to that of PR China / ROC. Awkward and perhaps even vaguely threatening, but with both sides experiencing a high growth rate and doing a lot of business with one another.


    Sri Lanka's strategic position off the coast of India holds many potential opportunities, particularly if they make certain businesses more welcome than does India.
    5 Nov 2012, 04:52 PM Reply Like
  • There is indeed support of a (changing) unfavorable investment climate in Tanzania:


    By the way, this may be a nice background article on Sub-Sahara Africa:
    5 Nov 2012, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • Jon


    Haven't read the report myself in full, but there is a recent Credit Suisse report on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam:



    Subsequently with a link to a list of Thai firms that are benefiting:
    5 Nov 2012, 06:07 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks Schumpeter!
    5 Nov 2012, 06:24 PM Reply Like
  • Jon, Springer: Greetings. Liked the article and you're right it wasn't in the US print version. Thanks.
    5 Nov 2012, 04:35 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thank you RBF.


    FYI folks... more coming on Sri Lanka... just getting my ducks in order.


    Still feel quite positive about Sri Lanka.
    5 Nov 2012, 04:53 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Somewhat related. David Jackson (Seeking Alpha founder) posted today a link to Seeking Alpha's tracking of the best performing single country ETF's


    Sorted by year-to-date, Egypt's #1 and Turkey's #2


    Hopefully they'll add 3 yr and 5 yr time ranges soon. Got any other critiques, comments, or compliments about international ETF coverage, you can let David Jackson know here
    8 Nov 2012, 10:18 PM Reply Like
  • Jon


    I have also somewhat related. Vimpelcom is selling it's African and Asia assets, i.e. Cambodia, Laos, Zimbabwe, Burundi and the Central African Republic.


    It may be fruitful to follow who is/ are going to be the buyer(s).

    9 Nov 2012, 04:00 AM Reply Like
  • Vimpelcom attracts ‘concrete’ buyer for unwanted African assets; Laos deal imminent:
    29 Jun 2013, 07:21 PM Reply Like
  • Reports from the upcoming American trade mission to Sri Lanka should help us assess the value of trading and investing in the Southern Indian Subcontinent region.
    9 Nov 2012, 10:46 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Budget was approved in Sri Lanka yesterday. Unlike other countries that shall not be named, Sri Lanka approves its budget for the following year each November.


    In fact, it happened on the exact day people told me it would last month.


    I've been told there is seasonal caution in the Colombo Stock Exchange in the lead up to the budget annoucement (prior to people knowing what's in it).


    I have at least one report on the budge in my in-box but have a heap of other issues I have to address at present before I get to it... will do soon ASAP.
    9 Nov 2012, 11:19 AM Reply Like
  • It looks like the trade mission is visiting at a time when the economies of the two host countries are being integrated with a free trade agreement with each other.
    10 Nov 2012, 05:26 PM Reply Like
  • There is a little bit of news regarding the results of the American trade mission in February.
    AmCham Sri Lanka must have more detailed news about it.
    2 Mar 2013, 06:45 PM Reply Like
  • Now that Sri Lanka has set up a nanotechnology park, there should be opportunities for them to facilitate some business relationships with the California nanotechnology industry.
    11 Nov 2012, 12:12 AM Reply Like
  • Jon,


    I imagine you (also) already took note of the fact that Sri Lanka is Leopard Capital's largest allocation (20,4%) in its Asia Frontier Fund ?
    i.e. Asian Frontier Markets incl. Vietnam.
    12 Nov 2012, 11:33 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » I think that's smart. I met a few people connected with Leopard while there.


    Vietnam seems to still be in the process of bottoming. Sri Lanka may have bottomed and be basing.


    All speculation of course... and P/E ratios are lower in Vietnam.
    13 Nov 2012, 10:01 AM Reply Like
  • Some global bankers think that the business environment for getting things done in Sri Lanka is improving for the most part.
    15 Nov 2012, 04:14 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks VB!


    I'm trying to get on to publishing my SL articles ASAP
    16 Nov 2012, 01:45 AM Reply Like
  • Sri Lanka is working on some alternative energy projects to supplement their existing hydroelectric resources and to compensate for the power infrastructure lost during the civil war. It will be interesting to check if any of these efforts will work well for them when the time comes several years from now.
    22 Nov 2012, 12:31 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks VB.


    I'm talking more to SA about publishing my Sri Lanka articles here early next week, and then, whichever way that conversation goes, I'll start posting more detail.
    22 Nov 2012, 12:50 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » And yes, Sri Lankans are very interested in alternative energy. Folks are installing solar energy more in their homes. There are people working on battery powered cars. All of it. Definitely of interest to them. Not sure its investable for us, but maybe there's a way eventually.
    22 Nov 2012, 12:52 AM Reply Like
  • More power to them!
    22 Nov 2012, 12:53 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » On topic:


    I hope by the end of this week to start publishing articles about Sri Lanka beginning with an interview with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Article is written. I'm just waiting on fact-checking that everything written is correct.


    Off topic (again):


    I highly recommend you check out Harris Kupperman's new free weekly newsletter, the Leather Apron Club. In it, he compiles the best stuff he's read and seen from the past week, from articles, financial snippets, and charts. It is free. Check it out.


    This week's edition:


    The first edition (last week):
    1 Dec 2012, 08:24 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Interview with the Central Bank Of Sri Lanka:
    3 Dec 2012, 02:38 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » I have just added a link to Groundviews - - in the header thanks to a reader pointing out this website to me.


    Groundviews has some reports that are quite critical of the government and useful counterpoints for investors.


    Two recent examples:


    1) regarding tourism and beach development -


    2) regarding freedom of assembly in the North of Sri Lanka (the base region of the opposition during the civil war)
    9 Dec 2012, 11:17 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » 17 Dec, 2012 19:51:04


    Sri Lanka and Mongolia forex debt ratios high: Fitch Report


    Dec 17, 2012 (LBO) - Foreign currency denominated debt is expected to fall as a ratio of current receipts in except for Sri Lanka and Mongolia, where it will remain high, Fitch Ratings said in a report which tracked 12 emerging Asian nations.


    "At the regional level, FC-denominated debt is projected to decline as a ratio of current external receipts," Fitch Ratings said in a report.


    "However it is projected to remain above 100 percent for Sri Lanka and to remain above the end-2011 level for Mongolia.


    "This factor is likely to weigh on these sovereigns' ratings."


    Sri Lanka has a 'BB-' rating from Fitch.


    However analysts say under laws governing Sri Lanka's central bank, all maturing state dollar debt can be directly settled against available foreign reserves (if available) when they fall due posing absolutely no threat to domestic monetary system or economy.


    rest of article:
    23 Dec 2012, 05:09 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Every Lankan shoulders Rs.300, 000 debt: CBSL data


    "The average national debt shouldered by each Sri Lankan has risen by 25% to reach Rs. 308,171 (US $ 2,371), from end of last year’s Rs.245, 980 (US $ 1,892), the monthly economic statistics released by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) showed."


    "Referred to as ‘Debt Per Capita’, in economic terms is calculated as total outstanding government debt divided by the mid-year population of an economy. According to the latest figures by the Department of Census and Statistics, the population in 2012 is 20,277,597."


    Full article:
    26 Dec 2012, 05:26 AM Reply Like
  • JS,
    Many are thinking this is bad? I suppose it may be considering other nations, but when up against our debt? I'm jealous.
    26 Dec 2012, 01:22 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » SD,


    Relative to per capita income, it is bad. However, I have some charts that should show this is getting better, and going to get better.


    Glad to see a few likes on comments here so I know this blog is not completely abandoned.


    For general information, my article interviewing the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has less page views than any other article I have published to-date (hopefully it will get more page views as I write more about Sri Lanka). Thus, I have been working on doing a lot of other things to try to secure audience for future articles about Sri Lanka, and other countries I plan to go to.


    There's more to come on Sri Lanka, and more to come on my efforts to build a frontier markets invsestment community on Seeking Alpha.
    27 Dec 2012, 05:21 AM Reply Like
  • Jon, I'm looking forward to your future writings on Sri Lanka and to what the American trade mission reports in the new year.
    It looks to me in a preliminary way that Sri Lanka is in that select category of frontier markets which have a decent chance to evolve and progress into becoming emerging markets. There was a time not that many decades ago when countries we now think as emerging markets, Indonesia, South Africa, India for example, were in the nascent frontier stages of economic development. I believe that is a worthwhile long- term investment theme to consider.
    27 Dec 2012, 12:29 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » VB... can I quote that in an article? Perfectly fits what I'm writing...
    27 Dec 2012, 01:22 PM Reply Like
  • Sure, Jon, that is quite all right.
    I'm still exploring that theme about the African coasts, by the way.
    27 Dec 2012, 01:29 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks, and, I've noticed ;-) Trying to catch up with you on the African front... but a bit behind on Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Malaysia, etc. at the moment... and under the weather... and visiting family... keeping me busy...
    27 Dec 2012, 01:31 PM Reply Like
  • Abandoned?
    I wouldn't bet on it....
    Coincidentally I was just yesterday checking on those Unit Investment Trusts. Quite an opaque area, isn't it ?
    Or am I looking at wrong places? Can't find any details on holdings or semi(-annual) reports of these Trusts. Can't even find which companies there are in the "Top 10 index" (i.e. Ceylon Index Fund).


    By the way, quite an impressive amount of "likes" on your comments in the Lankan blog. Many followers on the subject.
    27 Dec 2012, 04:28 PM Reply Like
  • JS,
    You are correct that I didn't take per capita income into account in a strict sense, but in the sense that here in the U.S. our per capita debt is well beyond a couple of years wages (good years) and more if figuring in the Social Security (and other) money that the govt has borrowed from tax payers, let alone personal debt for homes ect.


    Sometimes a shack on the beach, a fishing pole and a machete to open coconuts sounds pretty good (yeah, I know, not realistic, please let me dream). ;-)
    28 Dec 2012, 05:57 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » SD,


    I have a good realtor for you in Sri Lanka if you're interested. He's a Brit that moved to Sri Lanka after over a decade living on the French Riviera and says Sri Lanka is much better. Just saying...


    Regarding the debt comparison. I'm not really disagreeing. Sri Lanka per capita income and GDP both have a lot of room to grow. American per capita income and GDP are not going to grow very fast, and if the Fed ever loses its magic power to set interest rates absurdly low, the U.S. is in trouble in my opinion.
    28 Dec 2012, 06:47 AM Reply Like
  • Sri Lanka and Africa are beginning to discover trading possibilities with each other. Africa is particularly interested in Sri Lankan rice.
    This is part of a global trend where the emerging markets and the frontier markets are beginning to trade with each other to each others benefit.
    28 Dec 2012, 05:30 PM Reply Like
  • The U.S. can dig into its deep oil reserves and sell finished oil products to the developing world for all they can buy. It's Saudi Arabia, Western Europe, and Japan that are next in line for trouble. It took the British Empire of the 1800's almost an entire century to decline; in my opinion, it will take the U.S. at least that long.
    29 Dec 2012, 11:03 AM Reply Like
  • Dear Schumpeter_1,


    This response is regarding your coment on the companies in the Ceylon Index Fund. Below is the link of the webpage of Ceylon Index Fund. Please scroll down the webpage and at the bottom of the right hand side of the page you will find "Colombo Top 10 Index Table" icon. When you point the curser on the "View Index Table", the list of companies will be displayed on your screen.


    If you find it dificult to view the table, we can e-mail the table of the companies, along with the annual report of the Fund.



    P.S. we have not uploaded the annual reports of the funds on our website at present as we are in the process of finalizing the updated contents of the same. Extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused.
    31 Dec 2012, 02:08 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Thanks to Ceylon Asset Management for answering this question from Schumpeter_1.
    31 Dec 2012, 02:37 AM Reply Like
  • Thanks !
    31 Dec 2012, 03:45 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » FYI, Ceybank & Heraymila, the other UIT funds I covered both now have registered Seeking Alpha user names and I'll ask than any further questions for UITs be on the UIT blog here:
    21 Jan 2013, 08:18 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Congratulations to our local blogger in Trincomalee who finally found a home to call his own:
    30 Dec 2012, 10:11 AM Reply Like
  • JS,
    I haven't researched this, but for what it is worth here is a link claiming censorship and murder of reporters in Sri Lanka.
    1 Jan 2013, 06:01 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Read Groundviews for a regularly published opposition view.


    I subscribe to it (free).


    The civil war was a war. I am not going to put lipstick on it and make it sound pretty. War is war.


    Keeping the war over is a focal point for the government still. Its a massive boost for the country and the war was evolving toward a Northern Ireland type of situation (i.e. no satisfactory solution).


    If you can imagine the entirety of international sentiment being on the side of The South during our Civil War, and international media constantly raging for years after the fact about the cruelty of the north (citing Sherman constantly), you might begin to feel like Sri Lankans.


    From my side of things, my battle last time in Sri Lanka and probably still next time is getting people to talk to me. Most western journalists that have gone to Sri Lanka for years have been hammering the government and its policies to end the war. There is a genuine (and understandable) lack of trust for western journalists at this point.


    Again, I'm not saying its perfect, and there are some other debates I want to get into as I talk about the country more down the road, but overall I strongly believe it is moving in the right direction. (And if that view changes, I'll post it, and I think my track record shows that I will.)
    1 Jan 2013, 07:08 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Well written article in Groundviews I got in my e-mail today. Talks about challenges facing government and people, why people migrate out of Sri Lanka, etc. Hyperlinks to a lot of other articles and data.
    2 Jan 2013, 01:57 AM Reply Like
  • JS,
    Thank you for your answer. Civil wars leave many scars, both physical and mental. I wish the people of Sri Lanka to have every opportunity in their search for healing and some kind of unity. If you think it proper, I wouldn't mind if you deleted my comment with that link. They have enough to deal with without spreading rumor, gossip or innuendo.
    2 Jan 2013, 02:44 AM Reply Like
  • It's a sad state of affairs when our "Western journalists." feel compelled to take the side of any miscreants that come along. They side with the Palestinians, Tamil tigers and just about any group hostile to capitalism and free markets. Why can't they just report the facts and leave changing the world out of the equation? Happy, healthy and prosperous new year JS and all the fronteir investors. Keep up the good work Jon.
    2 Jan 2013, 04:44 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Sri Lankan humor and language inadvertently found catching up on Groundviews.


    Jehan on YouTube
    (on mothers -
    (on fathers -
    (Apple iYo -
    (Sri Lanka's "Facebook" -




    Also... A to Z of Sri Lankan
    7 Jan 2013, 07:31 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Okay folks. New blog links at the top on how to invest locally. These will get updated periodically as I get additional data from folks in Sri Lanka.


    Please critique what these blogs are missing that you want more of, and I'll work on filling the gaps.


    Investing with brokerages:


    Investing in funds that are similar to ETFs (Unit Investment Trusts):


    Investing in banking and income:
    11 Jan 2013, 03:27 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » New Sri Lanka article by me:


    Also, tax section of brokerages article has been updated:
    18 Jan 2013, 08:08 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » embedded videos on Sri Lanka article now working for your viewing pleasure
    18 Jan 2013, 10:47 AM Reply Like
  • Thank you sir - off to view now.


    18 Jan 2013, 11:08 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » (Double posting... but this one's important to keep in the blog, apologies to those also following comments in my most recent article.)


    Sri Lanka makes it into the Economist on negative news:


    On a positive note, please note that freedom of the press in the country has allowed multiple local outlets to criticize this action.
    20 Jan 2013, 08:31 AM Reply Like
  • Australia desires more representative government in Sri Lanka. If that can be diplomatically arranged, more trade between the two countries will follow. News about Sri Lanka is followed sometimes in the Australian press in order to serve the diaspora resident in Australia.
    20 Jan 2013, 12:47 PM Reply Like
  • Off topic....but since there is no corresponding Investing Blog....
    How to play the opening-up of North Korea ?


    South-Korea listed companies


    5 Jul 2013, 04:44 AM Reply Like
  • It looks like there are some business connections developing between South Korea and Sri Lanka.
    If the two Koreas can establish and sustain a working relationship with each other then that should serve to broaden the market potential of Korea for other countries, too.
    5 Jul 2013, 03:38 PM Reply Like
  • North Korea appears to be totally dysfunctional. They have shut down the JV industrial park and other cooperative measures with the south.
    5 Aug 2013, 12:53 PM Reply Like
  • Nice website on Frontier Markets: shows index movements on the exchanges of Malawi, Macedonia, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Rwanda, as well as regional movements. Incl. coverage on the Final Frontiers North Korea and Cuba:


    North Korean investment opportunities:


    James Passin, fund manager/ co-founder Firebird Management - the American who bought Mongolia and friend of Marc Faber, on investing in North Korea:


    Cuban exposure for retail investors :
    - Ashmore Frontier Equity Fund


    Cuban exposure on Seekingalpha:



    30 Aug 2013, 06:53 PM Reply Like
  • James Passin - on Resourceinvestor :


    "It's no secret that Firebird Global II, ......, has investments there. [i.e. North Korea]
    North Korea is a very interesting country with a much larger population than Mongolia. It has huge known, but undeveloped, mineral deposits. It has a strategic location with deepwater ports and sophisticated manufacturing and technology emanating out of the military-industrial complex. The nation has the potential to be an economic tiger."


    Firebird Global Master Fund II was 50% owner of Chosun Energy .
    Aminex, listed in London and Dublin, had formed a company, Korex, to pursue the project jointly with Chosun Energy, a Singapore-listed company that identifies James Passin as one of its directors,
    30 Aug 2013, 07:17 PM Reply Like
  • Sri Lanka and Cuba are discussing opportunities to increase their trade.
    This is an example of the ongoing global trend known as the South- South cooperation.
    30 Aug 2013, 09:31 PM Reply Like
  • More on DPRK and Firebird:



    30 Aug 2013, 11:45 PM Reply Like
  • Here's some Australian firms with business exposure to Sri Lanka.
    31 Aug 2013, 02:55 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » This article about Sri Lanka was also in the print edition of Forbes Asia, now has over 60,000 page views despite numerous illegal reprintings, and led to me getting contracted as a contributor at Forbes Asia's website:


    It's a new year, and I give thanks to that interview for a new start.
    2 Jan, 09:37 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » If anyone missed it, you can find and follow me on Forbes Asia website here:
    2 Jan, 09:38 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Long interview with Leopard capital that discusses optimism on Sri Lanka extensively.

    19 Jan, 10:21 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Apologies that this blog is largely inactive now. However...


    For an update on this blog, please see my interview with Softlogic Stockbrokers of Sri Lanka on Forbes Asia:


    To stay up-to-date on my recent posts you can follow me on Forbes, on Twitter @FrontierWriter ( or check this blog on Seeking Alpha:
    27 Mar, 02:41 PM Reply Like
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