May 31, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena held extensive discussions with Prime Minister of Thailand Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on bilateral relations.
The meeting took place at the Government House in Bangkok during the three-day visit of Prime Minister Gunawardena to Thailand to attend the United Nation’s Vesak Day celebrations.
The two premiers discussed strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries and to strengthen trade and investment and religious ties.
Sri Lanka and Thailand have a strong cultural and religious bond because of their shared Buddhist heritage. The Siam Nikaya, which originated in Thailand, is one of the most revered monastic orders in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is Thailand’s fourth-largest trade partner in South Asia, behind India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Sri Lanka’s main exports to Thailand include gems, jewellery, tea, spices, fiber and metal products. Thailand, meanwhile, exports used cars, sugar, textiles, dry fish, cement, chemical products and automotive parts to Sri Lanka.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, suggested that the countries could encourage co-operation by leveraging their different comparative advantages. He said Colombo Port City is a great opportunity for all the countries in Asia and many Thai entrepreneurs will invest in Port City.
He opined that Thailand is well placed to polish and cut gemstones from Sri Lanka, as well as market them. This division of labor would also help to reduce direct competition on the global market for both countries.
Sri Lanka and Thailand belong to the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC), a body that promotes free trade among its members.
Prime Minister Gunawardena briefed the Thai prime Minister about the plans implemented by the government to overcome the economic crisis and to revive economic activities. He also stressed the government plans to have close economic cooperation with ASEAN member countries.
Thai Foreign Minister Don Prmudwinai recalled his meetings with the Prime minister Gunawardena and assured Sri Lanka fullest support at international fora.
Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, Minister of State of State Vijitha Berugoda, MP Yadamini Gunawardena and Sri Lanka Ambassador Chamnida Kolonne, economic Advisor T Rusiripala and Advisor Sugeeswara Senadhira also took part in the discussions.