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Sunday December 3rd, 2023

Sri Lanka ready to join BRI phase two, China FTA to be expedited

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is among countries ready to join the second phase of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), with a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries to be also expedited, according to a discussion between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and a top Chinese official.

Wickremesinghe told visiting special envoy of the Chinese President, state councillor Shen Yiqin, that the BRI is expected to make a more substantial economic contribution, according to a statement from the president’s office said Monday November 20 afternoon.

China is also prioritising the extension of a China-Myanmar Economic Corridor to the island nation, according to Yiqin.

This was during a courtesy call paid by President Xi Jinping’s envoy to President Wickremesinghe Monday morning in Colombo. Both parties also agreed to expedite the implementation of the China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, the statement said.

The primary focus of the meeting was to enhance tourism and trade relations between the two countries, according to the statement.

“The President expressed gratitude for China’s support to Sri Lanka, notably acknowledging their assistance in the country’s debt restructuring programme. He extended sincere thanks to the Chinese President and the government for their invaluable support in this regard,” the statement said.

Wickremesinghe also expressed Sri Lanka’s desire to augment cooperation between the two countries in the fields of tourism, sports and agriculture . Both the Hambantota Port and Colombo Port City are currently prepared for investment opportunities, he said.

“The President also noted that countries such as Sri Lanka, participants in the Belt & Road initiative, are prepared to embark on the second phase of the initiative, which is expected to make a more substantial economic contribution.

“The President outlined the measures taken by Sri Lanka to access the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and further affirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to preserving the Indian Ocean as a free zone for navigation and ensuring it remains a peaceful region, free from global geopolitical rivalries.”

The visiting Chinese official has said her government is prioritising the extension of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor to Sri Lanka.

Yikn reaffirmed China’s enduring support to Sri Lanka and emphasised her commitment to strengthening the relations between the two countries, the president’s office said. (Colombo/Nov20/2023)

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Sri Lanka UGC wants to boost number of IT-related degrees

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission is of the view to boost the number of Information Technology (IT) related degrees in state universities with an aim to pave the way for a digital economy.

Sri Lanka’shigher education system has been producing more graduates in Arts stream while the degrees in highly demanded IT and other engineering services are being looked at only now.

“We do have a high demand for engineering, science, AI, computer and electronical engineering

studies,” Chairman of University Grants Commission, Sampath Amaratunga, told reporters at aa media briefing on Friday

“However, while avoiding neglecting the humanities, we should develop new IT skills.”

Amaratunga confirmed that a student who studied in any stream could obtain an IT degree, including students who studied in the arts stream.

The UGC data show that out of 18,490 engineering technology stream students who sat for their Advanced Levels (A/L) in 2022, 10634 were eligible for university.

“Even streams like agriculture should be encouraged to use technology,” Amaratunga said. (Colombo/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka leader inaugurates Climate Justice Forum at COP28 in Dubai

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe launched Climate Justice Forum (CJF) at the ongoing 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai in a move to gather support for vulnerable nations hit by climate-change led disasters.

This year’s climate summit held in Dubai’s EXPO2020 features a raft of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change, including whether to phase out fossil fuels and how to finance the energy transition in developing countries.

Wickremesinghe inaugurated the Climate Justice Forum at COP28 on Saturday and emphasized the critical importance of addressing climate issues with a sense of justice and equity.

The President had been in talks with many nations vulnerable to climate change disasters including African and South American countries to get their support for the CJF.

The move is to compel advanced and developed countries to look into the poor nations hit by the climate changes and help them to get over economic and debt burdens by either investing more in green energy initiatives or writing off debts to ease financial pressure.

Sri Lanka, which is now facing an unprecedented economic crisis, has seen increasing losses and damages, both human lives and physical properties due to climate change-led disasters like floods, drought, and earth slips.

In his speech at the COP28 forum, Wickremesinghe on Friday said the Climate Justice Forum will provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. (Dubai/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka IMF review goes to executive board on December 12

ECONOMYNEXT – The first review of Sri Lanka’s International Monetary Fund program is scheduled to go the lender’s Executive Board for consideration on December 12.

Sri Lanka officials were expecting the review to be completed in December as soon as official creditors gave their assurances.

According to the notice Sri Lanka had missed one performance criterion and has requested modifications.

Sri Lanka has outperformed on a number of quantity targets including inflation. In addition to quantity PCs there was also one non-accumulation of arrears.

There would also be re-phasing of access. The review was originally expected around September with another review based on December data, leading to September and March disbursements.

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