US calls on Sri Lanka to join Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor

Mangala-samaraweera

Mar 01, 2016 (LBO) – United States called Sri Lanka to strengthen cooperation on issues of regional importance through multilateral organizations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

“The United States encouraged Sri Lankan participation in its Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor initiative to increase economic connectivity among South Asian countries and with Southeast Asia, which is congruent with Sri Lanka’s participation in BIMSTEC and other forums,” a recent statement from Sri Lanka’s foreign office said.

The statement was issued following the inaugural US – Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue convened in Washington in February.

Economic discussions highlighted Sri Lanka’s economic priorities and joint cooperation to expand trade flows, increase foreign direct investment, and improve the overall business environment in Sri Lanka, such as fair and transparent competition practices.

Sri Lanka’s delegation appreciated the lifting of the U.S. legislative mandate against supporting Sri Lankan projects at international financial institutions and the U.S. vote in favor of a recent project at the Asian Development Bank, which will deliver 100 million US dollars to Small and Medium Enterprises.

The next Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting to be held this year should initiate deepened engagement through development of the U.S. –Sri Lanka Joint Action Plan to increase external trade and investment, the statement said.

“This Action Plan, a road map for future work under TIFA, reinforces Sri Lanka’s development strategies and fosters an increased role for foreign direct investment and external trade in Sri Lanka,”

“It also seeks to improve the competitiveness of key industries; promote new industries through innovation; and fully leverage Sri Lanka’s location and skilled workforce.”

The two sides also intend to explore during the TIFA meeting opportunities for exchanging customs information to facilitate the free flow of goods.

Both sides recognize their shared interest in clean energy development and energy security and reiterated their commitment to deepen cooperation to develop and access affordable, clean renewable energy sources.

The United States also agreed to explore ways to support and assist Sri Lanka in the implementation of Sri Lanka’s Climate Action Plan, including adaptation projects.

Officials from the Millennium Challenge Corporation said they would visit Sri Lanka in March to begin discussions on Sri Lanka’s threshold program.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States looks forward to enhanced engagement with Sri Lanka and its private sector, particularly in the area of infrastructure investment, the statement added.