By Shehana Dain
The Unity Government has got Sri Lanka’s foreign relations right, which going forward will serve the country better, a top private sector personality observed recently.
Despite the new Government facing many economic challenges, its approach to building foreign relations has been effective, said Brandix CFO Hasitha Premaratne.
He highlighted that during the last 12 months the Government has executed its negotiations skills to a commendable level, bringing back the support from West which the country lacked during the tenure of the last regime.
“If we look at the last 12 months, almost everybody has visited Sri Lanka or our leadership has visited those countries. There has been tremendous interest towards Sri Lanka from those countries compared to previous years,” Premaratne said at a presentation titled ‘Macro Shocks Vs Colombo Bourse’ organised by the SEC’s Capital Market Education and Training Division.
“Relations with the US and UK were not handled very well by the previous Government. However, it looks like the ties built during the last 12 months are going to continue. One must not forget that the West is one of our biggest customers and that the customer is king,” he added.
However, he stressed that China should not be neglected in any manner as their support is going to be crucial for the country’s development.
“We should not for a moment forget China, the country with the cheque in hand. We should always keep guys with money close to us whether we like it or not. Parallel to that we did some crazy stupid things when the new Government came into power, shutting down some Chinese projects and sending wrong signals. Nonetheless we have realised our mistakes which is good sign. We have in turn managed to successfully satisfy India as well as Pakistan.”
According to him, the diverse approach and relationship with funding agencies is definitely a green card from an economic perspective as it’s going to boost the apparel sector and other vital industries with fruitful trade agreements and resources.
Premaratne said that the Government should make use of its foreign relations to push investments to make use of under-utilised infrastructure in Hambantota.
“It doesn’t matter now who built it, it was our tax money. We pumped money into it and now we need a return. In this scope there is plenty of opportunity to make use of the good foreign contacts we made. The Premier is talking positively about the pilot training camps in Hambantota and the Port being used as a hub to refuel the ships. Therefore I believe firmly that Hambantota will take off under this regime compared to the last one.”