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Monday April 15th, 2024

Sri Lanka does not align itself with India or China: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is open to collaboration with any global partners willing to respect its autonomy, the president said.

“Sri Lanka’s government does not align itself with either India or China and firmly stands for Sri Lanka’s interests above all else,” President Ranil Wickremesinghe was quoted in a statement by the president’s media division (PMD).

“This commitment to sovereignty extends to other island nations in the region,” Wickremesinghe said participating in the ‘Ocean Nations: The 3rd Annual Indo-Pacific Islands Dialogue.’

He highlighted the reluctance of island nations in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific to become embroiled in the rivalry between major world powers.

“These nations are focused on their own priorities, including social, economic, and ecological development and seek to maintain their sovereignty and independence.

“Island nations in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific have distinct priorities, unrelated to the Quad (comprising the US, India, Japan, and Australia) or China’s objectives,” he said, adding that “Sri Lanka is open to collaboration with any partners willing to respect its autonomy.”

Wickremesinghe noted that China’s rise occurred within existing regional frameworks such as APEC and ASEAN, which many nations prefer to maintain. But the recent expansion of great power rivalry beyond these frameworks has raised concerns among member nations.

Wickremesinghe pointed out that the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean hold immense strategic value.
“The South Pacific is a vital hub for the US Navy and the Indian Ocean played a crucial role in World War II,” President Wickremesinghe noted.

The Indo-Pacific concept has gained recognition, primarily due to mounting challenges from China, Wickremesinghe said, adding that it has prompted a re-evaluation of regional dynamics and cooperation, such as the Jakarta Concord within the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

Sri Lanka is to host the 23rd Ministerial Council meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in October this year, when its chairmanship is expected to go to Sri Lanka.

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Wickremesinghe said that the Quad had shifted from a focus on security and dialogue to applying coordinated pressure in the region, adding that island nations find security dialogues acceptable but emphasize non-interference in their internal affairs.

“The island nations of the Indian Ocean and South Pacific are resolute in their pursuit of independence, non-interference and the protection of their unique priorities amidst the evolving dynamics of great power rivalry in the Indo-Pacific region,” the PMD statement read. (Colombo/Sep19/2023)

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Sri Lanka to discuss two contentious points with bondholders: report

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka and sovereign bondholders are to discuss two matters in the near future which the two sides failed to reach agreement at March talks in London, a media report quoting a top aide to President Wickremesinghe as saying.

Sri Lanka and bondholders had discussed four matters on restructuring international sovereign bonds in late March and agreement had been reached on two, President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake was quoted as saying on state-run ITN television.

A restructuring proposal by bondholders was not in line with IMF requirements, and Sri Lanka had sent a counter proposal, he said.

The matters will be discussed at round of talks in the near future.

Sri Lanka was optimistic of reaching an agreement with the bondholders before June, officials have said.

According to matters already in the public domain, sovereign bond holders are keen to get a bond tied to dollar gross domestic product, as they feel IMF growth projections are too low.

In past re-structuring so-called value recovery instruments, a type of warrant, gave their owners extra payments if a country did better than expected and were tied to items like oil prices.

Bondholders had initially proposed bond which would have a lower hair cut initially, and it will have additional hair cuts if growth is low (about 3.1 percent) as projected in an IMF debt sustainability analysis. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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BIMSTEC Secretary General visits Sri Lanka, discusses regional cooperation

ECONOMYNEXT – The Secretary General of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), discussed measures to enhance regional cooperation, during his visit to the island last week.

Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, Secretary General of BIMSTEC visited Sri Lanka from 07 – 12 April 2024, following his assumption of office as Secretary General of BIMSTEC in January this year.

The Secretary General “met with senior officials of relevant Ministries/Agencies to discuss measures to enhance regional cooperation under various BIMSTEC initiatives,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Several BIMSTEC countries have bilateral trade agreements, such as Sri Lanka and India, Thailand and Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, but no collective regional agreement to enable intra-regional leverage.

During the visit, Secretary General Pandey held discussions with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and paid courtesy calls on the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Secretary General Pandey participated at an event on “Regional Cooperation through BIMSTEC” organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) on 9 April. (Colombo/April15/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 299.00/10 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 299.00/10 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Monday, from 298.50/55 on Wednesday, dealers said, while bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed stable at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent up from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed stable at 12.20/40 percent. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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