July 13, Colombo: The President of Sri Lanka and Prime Minister of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha have reaffirmed their commitment to increase the bilateral trade volume to USD 1.5 billion by the year 2020, together with achieving an equitable trade balance.
The two leaders have also agreed on the need to enhance investment flows between the two countries, when they held bilateral discussions on Thursday during the Thailand Prime Minister's official visit to Sri Lanka from 12 to 13 July 2018 at the invitation of President Sirisena.
The two leaders had bilateral discussions on 12 July 2018, covering a wide range of issues including political, economic, technical, agricultural, fisheries, cultural, religious, tourism, as well as regional and multilateral cooperation, a joint press statement issued on the official visit said.
On this occasion, both leaders jointly declared the launch of the Thailand - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. Both sides expressed confidence in attaining envisaged trade target through this comprehensive instrument. The first round of negotiations was held on 13 July 2018 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The two leaders noted with satisfaction the continued close and cordial relations between Thailand and Sri Lanka. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen the existing ties to a higher level of strategic economic partnership.
The two leaders witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Economic Partnership between the two countries, which would serve as an important mechanism to enhance bilateral economic cooperation in ten priority sectors. In this context, both sides agreed that a Joint Action Plan be drafted at the next Thailand - Sri Lanka Sub-Committee on Trade Related Matters Meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister of Thailand informed the President of Sri Lanka about the keen interest among Thai companies to invest in Sri Lanka. The President of Sri Lanka welcomed their interest, and the two leaders discussed ways and means to further encourage and facilitate more investments from Thailand to Sri Lanka.
On the area of technical cooperation, both sides witnessed the signing of the "Joint Action Programme for Cooperation on Sustainable Community Development Model based on the Application of Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". The said Joint Action Programme is intended to expand the application of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Sri Lanka. This joint cooperation will significantly assist Sri Lanka to further augment the social and economic conditions conducive for rural communities.
The President of Sri Lanka expressed his appreciation for the technical assistance extended by the Royal Thai Government in rainmaking technology to address issues of hydro-power generation and facilitate irrigation for agricultural purposes. The President of Sri Lanka also noted with satisfaction the existing collaboration between the experts in agriculture of the two countries, and in this context thanked the Thai Prime Minister for the expertise shared to identify possible means of modernizing the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, with a view to enhancing the collaboration in agricultural and fisheries sectors, the two leaders, while recognizing the importance of convening the related Joint Working Groups, expressed that the two sides priorities the exchange of proposals on envisaged cooperation.
In addition, the two leaders also witnessed the signing of the Treaty between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on the Transfer of Offenders and on Co-operation in the Enforcement of Penal Sentences and the Memorandum of Understanding between Kasetsart University and Ministry of Primary Industries on Technological Collaboration Related to Value Addition of Primary Products. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was also concluded.
Following the meeting, the President of Sri Lanka hosted a banquet in honour of the Prime Minister of Thailand and his delegation at the Presidentís House. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe hosted a breakfast meeting for the Thai Prime Minister and his delegation on the following day.
The Prime Minister of Thailand visited the historic city of Kandy and paid homage to the sacred Tooth Relic. He also called on the Most Venerable Mahanayake Theros of the Malwatta and Asgiriya Chapters of the Siam Sect. The Prime Minister of Thailand also visited the Royal Botanic Garden, Peradeniya, and planted a sapling to mark his visit to Sri Lanka.
This successful high-level visit reflects the timeless partnership between Thailand, Sri Lanka and their peoples, which is based on shared historic, religious and cultural affinities, augmented by mutually beneficial economic ties, the joint statement said.