|SRI LANKAN, U.S. OFFICIALS SUCCESSFULLY
CONCLUDE TRADE TALKS
Reconciliation through Economic Development
Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development
and International Trade speak at the conclusion of the talks.
Also in the picture Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya and Michael
Delany, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative.
U.S. and Sri Lankan trade representatives held
their seventh annual meeting Thursday (15 October) to discuss
a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in 2002. The
talks focused on a number of trade issues that are designed
to increase commerce between the U.S. and Sri Lanka. The meeting
included talks on intellectual property rights, food labeling,
garment exports and patent and payment issues.
Sri Lankan delegation praised the Trade and Investment
Framework (TIFA) talks as productive, noting that the backing
of the United States gives an important boost to efforts to rebuild
the conflict-damaged north and eastern provinces. “We have
been able to identify areas of cooperation between the United
State and Sri Lanka,” said Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of
Export Development and International Trade, “especially
in the packaging industry and value additive areas of Sri Lanka’s
economy.” Minister Peiris said increased trade would prove
vital to providing steady incomes to those displaced by Sri Lanka's
26-year-conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terrorist
group. The government defeated the terrorists in May 2009.
U.S. officials likewise praised the talks as
helpful to Sri Lanka’s post-conflict development. “We’ve
have a very good session on a wide range of issues on trade development
between our countries -- on the possibilities of existing trade
and the possibilities of more,” said Michael Delany, Assistant
U.S. Trade Representative and Head of the U.S. trade team. “The
United States understands that Sri Lanka is at a critical juncture
in its history. There are enormous possibilities that were not
possible a year ago.” Assistant Secretary Delaney added
that U.S.-Sri Lankan trade, worth about $2 billion a year, could
increase substantially. The United States, he said, wants to promote
U.S. investment in Sri Lanka as a means of aiding post-conflict
reconciliation among Sri Lanka’s population. “This
is a situation that has taken an especially good turn for the
better,” Delaney further said of the government’s
defeat of the terrorists. “Let’s seize this opportunity
and make the most of it.”
Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya stated that
the TIFA discussions are further evidence that Sri Lanka’s
economy is on the rebound. “Sri Lanka is rebuilding and
is open for business,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “As
an island nation we have always relied on trade. With terrorism
behind us, we want to invite foreign investors to come and share
in Sri Lanka’s potential.”
The TIFA talks came in the latter stages of a
week-long series of discussions among trade officials from the
U.S. and Sri Lankan governments and a variety of businesses that
are interested in investing in Sri Lanka. On October 13, about
40 American businesses and 30 businesses from India and Asia met
to examine the prospects of a “private-public partnership,”
with the two governments.
The delegation on October 14 visited the coastal
city of Trincomalee in northeast Sri Lanka to explore opportunities.
The week of business talks will conclude October
16 with a meeting on the "General System of Preferences"
that the U.S. extends to goods from Sri Lanka.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
15 October 2009