Sri Lankan, U.S. Officials Successfully Conclude Trade Talks - Reconciliation through Economic Development

Sri Lankan, U.S. Officials Successfully Conclude Trade Talks – Reconciliation through Economic Development


U.S. and Sri Lankan trade representatives held their seventh annual meeting Thursday (15 October) to discuss a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in 2002. The talks focused on a number of trade issues that are designed to increase commerce between the U.S. and Sri Lanka. The meeting included talks on intellectual property rights, food labeling, garment exports and patent and payment issues.

Sri Lankan delegation praised the Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) talks as productive, noting that the backing of the United States gives an important boost to efforts to rebuild the conflict-damaged north and eastern provinces. “We have been able to identify areas of cooperation between the United State and Sri Lanka,” said Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development and International Trade, “especially in the packaging industry and value additive areas of Sri Lanka’s economy.” Minister Peiris said increased trade would prove vital to providing steady incomes to those displaced by Sri Lanka's 26-year-conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terrorist group. The government defeated the terrorists in May 2009.

U.S. officials likewise praised the talks as helpful to Sri Lanka’s post-conflict development. “We’ve have a very good session on a wide range of issues on trade development between our countries -- on the possibilities of existing trade and the possibilities of more,” said Michael Delany, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative and Head of the U.S. trade team. “The United States understands that Sri Lanka is at a critical juncture in its history. There are enormous possibilities that were not possible a year ago.” Assistant Secretary Delaney added that U.S.-Sri Lankan trade, worth about $2 billion a year, could increase substantially. The United States, he said, wants to promote U.S. investment in Sri Lanka as a means of aiding post-conflict reconciliation among Sri Lanka’s population. “This is a situation that has taken an especially good turn for the better,” Delaney further said of the government’s defeat of the terrorists. “Let’s seize this opportunity and make the most of it.”

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya stated that the TIFA discussions are further evidence that Sri Lanka’s economy is on the rebound. “Sri Lanka is rebuilding and is open for business,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “As an island nation we have always relied on trade. With terrorism behind us, we want to invite foreign investors to come and share in Sri Lanka’s potential.”

The TIFA talks came in the latter stages of a week-long series of discussions among trade officials from the U.S. and Sri Lankan governments and a variety of businesses that are interested in investing in Sri Lanka. On October 13, about 40 American businesses and 30 businesses from India and Asia met to examine the prospects of a “private-public partnership,” with the two governments.

The delegation on October 14 visited the coastal city of Trincomalee in northeast Sri Lanka to explore opportunities.

The week of business talks will conclude October 16 with a meeting on the "General System of Preferences" that the U.S. extends to goods from Sri Lanka.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

15 October 2009

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