India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka highlights growing bilateral ties at Indian CEO Forum
Daily FT: India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Vinod K. Jacob recently addressed the Indian CEO Forum in Colombo and dwelt upon strong friendship between India and Sri Lanka, particularly cooperation under the five pillars of economic, financial, development partnership, capacity building and people-to-people ties. India was Sri Lanka’s second largest trading partner in 2020.
This has grown further in 2021 to reach $ 5.23 billion. India is also one of the biggest investors in Sri Lanka with total FDI of over $ 1.7 billion in the past 15 years.
“India and Sri Lanka have sought to develop the relationship further by harnessing complementary strengths and enhancing mutual understanding on economic matters,” he added.
The Deputy High Commissioner recalled the currency swap of $ 400 million, postponement of $ 515 million owed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to the Reserve Bank of India under the Asian Clearing Union and a line of credit for $ 500 million for the purposes of fuel imports from India. In addition, a line of credit for $ 1 billion for import of food, medicines and essential items by Sri Lanka from India is also under discussion.
The Deputy High Commissioner also highlighted the development partnership and capacity building programme with Sri Lanka besides stressing people-to-people ties as one of the most important factors that enable the bilateral relationship. India has for many years been the largest source market for tourism in Sri Lanka.
“In the year 2021, 1.94 lakh tourists arrived in Sri Lanka out of which 56,268 were from India which translates into about 29% of total arrivals,” he said.
The Deputy High Commissioner also mentioned the complementary nature of cooperation between India and Sri Lanka in the health sector and noted the delivery of COVISHIELD under “Vaccine Maitri”, supply of medical oxygen, 26 tonnes of medical supplies and donation of 100,000 Rapid Antigen Test kits. In defence and security, he underlined the role played by the Indian Navy and India Coast Guard during the MT New Diamond and MV Express Pearl disasters in 2020 and 2021 respectively which is a testament to India’s Neighbourhood First policy.
Prior to the Deputy High Commissioner’s address, the Indian CEO Forum held a discussion on India’s budget for the year 2022-23 where the representatives from the High Commission of India also participated.
Sri Lanka and India enjoy strong bilateral and trade ties that have been further strengthened by a functioning free trade agreement (FTA). The two countries are also engaged in further boosting trade and investment cooperation between the two countries. With Sri Lanka’s ongoing development programme and move to position the country as a growing business destination in the region, Indian businesses/investors could explore the growing opportunities in the country. India is also a key development partner of Sri Lanka while tourists from India are also showing a steady growth. Given the expansion of Sri Lanka’s key economic sectors, Indian businesses could look at forming partnerships or joint ventures with local businesses to expand to new markets. Also, with a lot of Indian funding flowing into the Sri Lanka’s development programme, Indian businesses could confidently explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka.
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