July 18, Colombo: Sri Lanka and Singapore plan to strengthen bilateral relations in trade and investment and finalize a new free trade agreement within this year.
Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who is undertaking an official visit to Sri Lanka from 17-21 July, called on the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today at the Presidential Secretariat.
Singapore Minister commending the efforts made by President Sirisena to strengthen reconciliation in Sri Lanka said there is immense potential to increase Singaporean investments in Sri Lanka.
President Sirisena enlightened the Singapore Minister about the investment opportunities available in tourism and hospitality sectors for investors from Singapore and Dr. Balakrishnan in reply said that Singaporean investors could also look at other sectors like energy, water, education and technology. Already there are over 300 Singaporean investments in Sri Lanka.
President Sirisena thanked Singapore for assisting Sri Lanka at the international forums during the conflict in Sri Lanka. Dr Balakrishnan immediately quipped that whatever Singapore was providing to Sri Lanka was only a 'repayment of intellectual endowment' received from high standard Sri Lankan professionals who augmented Singapore's progress over the years.
Singapore Minister said he would visit Jaffna tomorrow to donate books to the Jaffna Library and to sign an agreement to provide training facilities to the library staff. Singapore will also provide facilities to training facilities and set up a professorship at the Orthopedics Department of Jaffna Hospital.
The President thanked Singapore for providing such assistance to Jaffna Library and Jaffna Hospital and recalled that Singapore and Sri Lanka have maintained excellent bilateral ties since ancient time.
Expressing his appreciation of Sri Lanka's international relations, the Minister said, as a small nation living among powerful big neighbors, countries such as Singapore and Sri Lanka have to always maintain extra vigilance on power balance and external relations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Secretary to the President Austin Fernando, Foreign Secretary Esala Weerakoon and Singaporean High Commissioner S Chandra Das were also present at the meeting.
Dr. Balakrishnan also met with his Sri Lankan counterpart Minister Ravi Karunanayake today.
The two ministers concluded a productive meeting on a range of areas of mutual interest including economic and development cooperation, tourism, cultural cooperation, defense and maritime cooperation, reconciliation as well as cooperation in regional and multilateral fora, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
During discussions, Sri Lanka and Singapore agreed to strengthen bilateral relations in trade and investment a put a new free trade agreement in place within this year. Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is expected to be finalized during the latter part of 2017.