Sri Lanka has expressed interest in having a closer collaboration with ASEAN.
The Heads of ASEAN Missions in Sri Lanka hosted a dinner in honor of President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo last evening (Wednesday).
They discussed, among others, the advancement of ASEAN and Sri Lanka cooperation, including in trade, investment, and tourism.
The dinner was attended by the ASEAN Heads of Missions, led by Dewi Gustina Tobing, the Ambassador of Indonesia as the current country’s Chair of ASEAN, and Han Thu, the Ambassador of Myanmar, Ho Thi Thanh Truc, the Ambassador of Viet Nam, Poj Harnpol, the Ambassador of Thailand, and Aneurin Ignatius, the CDA of the High Commission of Malaysia.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tharaka Balasuriya, the President’s Chief of Staff, Sagala Ratnayaka, Foreign Secretary, Mrs. Aruni Wijewardane and the Chairman of the Board of Investment, Dinesh Weerakkody were also present.
Ambassador Dewi Tobing, representing ASEAN, briefed President Ranil Wickremesinghe on the priority of ASEAN under the Chairmanship of Indonesia, which aimed to make ASEAN the motor of peace and stability in the region and to make Southeast Asia the center of economic growth. With the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” ASEAN countries will ensure that ASEAN remains and is increasingly relevant to the ASEAN Community and the world.
President Wickremesinghe appraised the development and the central role of ASEAN and keened to have a closer collaboration with ASEAN. The President hoped there would be an increase in investment and tourists from ASEAN countries, given that flows from the region only account for a small proportion of investment and tourism.
The ASEAN Heads of Missions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam generally responded positively to President Ranil’s hopes for increasing the flow of investment and tourists from ASEAN countries, especially in supporting Sri Lanka in economic recovery efforts. The ASEAN Heads of Missions are also expected to increase the two-way trade relations with Sri Lanka and advance more market access between Sri Lanka and respective ASEAN countries.
The ASEAN Heads of Missions further expressed their willingness to advance cooperation in various fields that benefit Sri Lanka’s economic development, both individually in bilateral relations and within the ASEAN framework.
It was noted that Sri Lanka’s major exports to the region consisted of apparel, electrical machinery, natural pearls, and tea. In contrast, mineral fuels, oils, rubber, and machinery were Sri Lanka’s main imports. The meeting further noted that Sri Lanka joined the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and is a signatory country to the ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.