U.S. SAYS IT HAS GREAT CONFIDENCE IN SRI LANKA,
AND WAS TAKING ITS ECONOMIC RELATIONS WITH SRI LANKA VERY SERIOUSLY
Deputy US Trade Representative Jon Huntsman said Tuesday that
"the US had great confidence in Sri Lanka, and was taking
its economic relations with the country very seriously".
Ambassador Huntsman made this observations when he addressed an
Investment Roundtable hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, on
the theme " Sri Lanka- Gateway to South Asia", held
as an integral part of the Second Meeting of the Joint Council
established under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
(TIFA). The Roundtable was attended by Business Leaders from over
30 companies with current and prospective trade and investment
connections with Sri Lanka, officials of the US Government and
of the US Chamber of Commerce.
At the formal talks of the Joint Council held at the White House
Conference Center in Washington D.C., Ambassador Huntsman who
led the US delegation expressed satisfaction with the progress
made so far under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
(TIFA) between the US and Sri Lanka. He noted that within a matter
of eight months since its establishment, the Joint Council had
met twice, which is testimony to the importance both parties attach
to bi-lateral trade and economic relations. He said the US regards
Sri Lanka as a country with vast potential for economic development
in South Asia. He emphasized the need to generate greater understanding
among the US business community of the considerable trade and
investment expansion opportunities in Sri Lanka and stressed the
importance of evolving confidence building and problem solving
mechanisms under the Joint Council to facilitate this process.
The TIFA agreement signed during Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's
visit to the White House in July, 2002, provides a framework to
discuss bi-lateral and multi-lateral issues relating to Sri Lanka
and the US. The Sri Lanka delegation to the talks were led by
Minister of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy, Investment
Promotion & Constitutional Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris and Commerce
and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake. The Sri Lanka
delegation included Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the US Devinda R.
Subasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Harsha Wicramasinghe and Chairman, Board of Investment (BOI) Arjunna
Mahendran, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to WTO, Geneva
K.J.Weerasinghe, Chairman United National Party, Mr. Malik Samarawicrema,
Minister (Commercial) Saman Udagedara and First Secretary (Economic)
Siro Gopallawa of the Embassy of Sri Lanka.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake, in
his opening remarks stressed the urgent need to "commercialize
peace" in Sri Lanka and said as the country moves towards
finding a lasting solution to the ethnic conflict, that it was
also focusing on confidence building mechanisms during this learning
curve. The Minister said Sri Lanka needed to diversify the economy
and the Prime Minister and the Government of Sri Lanka was focusing
on this issue. He emphasized that Sri Lanka is committed to moving
the TIFA to further expand bilateral trade and gain greater market
access to the US.
Prof. G.L. Peiris, who joined the delegation after having led
the Sri Lanka Government delegation to the 6th session of the
Sri Lanka Peace Talks with the LTTE in Hakone, Japan, briefed
the meeting on the latest developments concerning the peace process.
He noted that during the past fifteen months of the cease fire
agreement, the country had enjoyed considerable achievement in
the areas of tourism, foreign direct investment and re-integration
& interaction of trade between the north & south of the
island after almost two decades of conflict. He said prospects
for permanent peace are greater than ever before.
The two delegations agreed to explore the possibility of having
trade missions visit their respective countries and to further
strengthen enforcing and implementation while amending the law
to incorporate new developments in these areas. They will also
engage in further bilateral discussions at the officials level
with respect to moving forward with the WTO's Doha Development
It was agreed to continue the TIFA process with a meeting in
Colombo and a subsequent meeting in Washington D.C. during the
course of this year, highlighting the importance and potential
of the US-Sri Lanka trade and investment relationship.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
25 March 2003