Sri Lanka, US ties get fresh boost

Saturday, 30 April 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama with US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman

Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama led the Sri Lanka delegation to the 12th US-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council Meeting in Washington which adopted a path breaking Action Plan to boost bilateral trade and investment.

 The Council meeting was co-chaired by United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama. United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power participated as well, encouraging the Sri Lankan government to continue its vital progress on democracy, accountability, and human rights. Ambassador Froman noted that the election outcome has ushered in a new era of U.S.-Sri Lanka economic cooperation.  US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman in his opening remarks stated that “it is our first significant opportunity for engagement on trade and investment issues since the Sri Lankan presidential election last year.”  He further said, “With the Joint Action Plan that we will announce today, we hope to set forth a series of concrete and specific initiatives to strengthen Sri Lanka’s trade and investment regime and mobilise more of the Sri Lankan population to participate in a trade-oriented economy.” 

 Ambassador Samantha Power speaking at the Inaugural Session stated “As part of its determination to deal with abuses of the past, the (Sri Lanka) government had committed to justice and reconciliation processes which will serve all Sri Lankans. I have never seen a country take such swift strides in such little time.”  She emphasised that “the United States we will seek to leverage our assistance this year to further support broad-based economic growth.” 

 Minister Malik Samarawickrama in his Inaugural Statement, among other issues, highlighted that “the Government is seeking to stabilise the economy and implement a development strategy that is capable of giving our people sustained accelerated growth and a million jobs in the next five years.  We are determined to break out of the cycle of stop-go policies, which have characterised our past.  For this, we need to create a sustainable growth framework.”  The Minister highlighted that “increased market access for Sri Lankan exports will be crucial for building a more prosperous, stable and peaceful Sri Lanka.” 

Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam speaking at the Inaugural Session noted that “today is a landmark for the TIFA process between our two countries, as we have representation at Cabinet-level from the US side after many long years.  In fact, we have two officials of Cabinet rank from your side present, signaling, no doubt, the United States’ support for the ongoing transformation in Sri Lanka.”  

At the conclusion of the meeting, both governments pledged their commitment to deepening their engagement over the coming months in order to develop a detailed implementation plan for the Action Plan, with a formal launch envisaged for later this year. 

During his visit to Washington, Minister Malik Samarawickrama met with several US investors and addressed a Business Roundtable Discussion hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce.  The Minister also met with several members of the US Congress, including Representative David Price, Representative Steve Chabot and Representative Joe Crowley.

Prior to the commencement of the US-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Council Meeting, Minister Samarawickrama held a meeting with Ambassador Michael Froman, US Trade Representative at the Office of the US Trade Representative. 

The Sri Lankan delegation to the TIFA Council Session included :Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama , Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the USA Prasad Kariyawasam, Secretary to the  Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations Gotabaya Jayaratne, Head – Agency for International Trade Saman Kelegama, Director General of Commerce Sonali Wijeratne, Director General of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Duminda Ariyasinghe,  Senior Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations A. Wimalaweera, Asst. Legal Advisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tilani Silva and Minister/Commercial of the Embassy of Sri Lanka Bandula Somasiri.