Sri Lanka gets closer to ASEAN, Vietnam

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is strengthening relations with Vietnam and the Association of South East Asian Nations with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe due to address a World Economic Forum regional meeting in Ha Noi shortly, officials said.

The successful completion of bilateral political consultations in February 2018 acted as a catalyst for future enhancement of relations Plantations Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake said addressing diplomats in Colombo at an event to mark the National Day of Vietnam, which falls on September 02.

"The bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Vietnam are multifaceted and encompass the economy, agriculture, fisheries and education," Minister Dissanayake said.

Vietnam’s Ambassador to Colombo Pham Thi Bich Ngoc said there was an opportunity to elevate bilateral relations to a higher level and co-operate in regional and international platforms for peace and stability.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had accepted an invitation from Vietnam to address the World Economic Forum – ASEAN which will be held in Ha Noi from 11 to 13 September 2018, the second time in as many months that he is participating in a forum in the country.

"It will be an opportunity to discuss innovative and creative ideas and strengthen regional economic relations with ASEAN," Minister Dissanayake said .

Sri Lanka had established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1970.

Last week Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was in Ha Noi to address a maritime forum, the Indian Ocean Conference 2018.

Vietnam has been integrating with world for several decades since the Đổi Mới (renewal) reforms started in 1984.

"Vietnam today is a highly open and diverse economy," Ambassador Ngoc said. "Our Gross Domestic Product growth has been sustained at a high rate. The living standards of the people have been significantly improved."





Vietnam’s economy grew 7.08 percent in the first six months of the year, data from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam reported. In 2017 the economy grew 6.8 percent.

Vietnam is a chosen destination for foreign investment (FDI) and tourism with Sri Lankan visitors also increasing to the country Ambassador Ngoc said.

Up to August 2018, 13.4 billion US dollars of new FDI projects had been signed with Japan accounting for 5.8 billion dollars and Korea 5.8 billion dollars. Existing companies had applied to invest a further 5.5 billion dollars totaling 19.0 billion dollars.

Realized investments up to August 20, was 11.25 billion US dollars, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier. 

In 2017, foreign companies applied to invest 29.5 billion US dollars in Vietnam and realized inflows were 17.5 billion US dollars.

Several Sri Lankan firms had already invested in Vietnam, including in apparel.

Minister Dissanayake said Sri Lanka had a stable investment environment and Vietnamese firms could look at sectors like tourism.

In the first 7 months of 2018, Vietnam welcomed 9.08 million tourists, up 25 percent from a year earlier with 1.9 million coming in July alone.  Sri Lanka received 2.1 million foreign visitors in the 12-months to December 2017. In 2017 Vietnam received 12.9 million visitors, up 29 percent from a year earlier.

Up to August exports from Vietnam grew 14.5 percent to 155.4 billion US dollars and imports grew 11.5 percent to 152.6 billion US dollars. In 2017 exports grew 21 percent to 213 billion US dollars.  Vietnam has a population of 93.7 million people.

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