ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe who is on an official visit to Japan has called for bilateral collaboration highlighting emerging opportunities in Sri Lanka that Japanese businesses could leverage as the island nation restores stability.
In a roundtable discussion in Tokyo on Thursday May 26, Wickremesinghe had spoken of Sri Lanka’s commitment to stabilising and liberalising the economy while actively inviting new foreign ventures. At a separate event, he had also called for increased cooperation between Sri Lanka and Japan in the two countries’ respective digital transformation efforts.
The Sri Lankan president, since his appointment in July 2022, has indicated an eagerness to repair damaged relations with Tokyo after his predecessor’s administration unilaterally cancelled a 1.5 billion US dollar Japan-funded light rail transit (project) and a tripartite deal between Japan, Sri Lanka and India to develop the Colombo Port’s East Container Terminal (ECT).
In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Thursday May 25, Wickremesinghe had extended an apology for the cancellation of the LRT project and discussed legislation to make sure that large-scale bilateral projects cannot be cancelled without mutual agreement.
According to a statement from the president’s office, Thursday’s business rountable on ‘Sri Lanka’s Economic Revival & Opportunities for Japanese Enterprise’ was organised jointly by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Japan-Sri Lanka Business Co-Operation and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Japan.
The statement said Wickremesinghe had outlined his administration’s ongoing efforts to restore stability and open the economy, fostering an inviting climate for foreign investment. He had also discussed various measures and reforms being implemented to create a conducive business environment for potential investors.
The president had emphasised the mutual benefits that can be derived from increased collaboration between the two countries. Sri Lanka’s strategic location and skilled workforce were highlighted as key advantages, providing a gateway for Japanese companies to expand their operations in the region and leverage the country’s emerging economic opportunities.
The president had also attended a separate meeting with the Japan-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Association, the statement said, as well as a meeting with Japan’s Minister of Digitisation Taro Kono where Wickremesinghe had presented a “comprehensive overview of Sri Lanka’s programme to advance towards a digital economy.” The importance of enhancing cooperation between Japan and Sri Lanka in their respective digital transformation endeavours was discussed, the president’s office said. (Colombo/May27/2023)