Foreign Minister Ali Sabry concluded his visit to Sweden on 16 May, 2023 following multiple engagements with the Swedish Government, the Speaker of the Riksdag, European Union countries as well as the Swedish business community.
Minister Sabry was in Stockholm leading Sri Lanka’s delegation to the EU-Indio Pacific Ministerial Forum at the invitation of Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström and EU High Representative and Vice President Josep Borell. Sweden currently holds the Presidency of the European Union.
At the invitation of the Swedish Presidency, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister co-moderated Roundtable 1 with the Swedish Foreign Minister which thematically focused on “Building more sustainable and inclusive growth”. The closed-door Roundtables formed the key dialogue format at the Ministerial Forum. He later briefed the concluding Assembly the key outcome of the Roundtable.
The gathering of EU and Indo-Pacific countries in Stockholm afforded the opportunity for the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister to engage bilaterally with several counterparts attending the Sessions including the Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, EU High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell Fontelles, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, Luxemburg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. He specifically thanked the Paris Club countries for the strong support to the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) process with the IMF. Sri Lanka and Luxemburg signed the Memorandum of Understanding between Sri Lanka and Luxembourg on Bilateral Consultations. IORA Secretary General Salman Al Farsi also met the Minister to brief him on the work programme and transition process towards Sri Lanka’s Chairmanship of the group in October this year.
In the context of the EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum, Minister Sabry emphasized the importance of good cooperation, collaboration as well as peace and stability for shared prosperity and highlighted the need for concrete partnerships with EU countries in trade, investment, tourism, climate, ocean & maritime matters, renewable energy, supply chain diversification etc.
While updating his counterparts on the developments on the domestic front including on the political stability, economic recovery, and reconciliation process, he pointed to the value of supporting economic progress of the country to secure optimal results.
Using his presence in Stockholm Minister Sabry had a series of focussed high level business discussions at sessions convened at the Embassy of Sri Lanka at Strandvagen. The Swedish-Sri Lanka Business Council presented to the Minster and the Business community results of the key Membership Survey which points to positive sentiments of continuing and future growth for Swedish business. He continued his interactions with the Swedish business community and investor groups articulating inter alia the opportunities Sri Lanka presents as a growth-oriented investment destination in several sectors such as real estate, IT, tourism, financial sector, renewable energy, technology, TELCO, insurance, infrastructure, pharma and health.
The Foreign Minister highlighted the excellent option for manufacturing and supply chain diversification in Sri Lanka for several sectors. Pointing to Sri Lanka’s economically strategic location in the Indian Ocean, the political stability and the emerging growth trajectory, the skilled and educated workforce as well as excellent living conditions and leisure options, the Minister invited the business community to capitalize on the opportunities in Sri Lanka and for expansion of business. Several CEOs of Swedish IT companies operating from Sri Lanka exchanged views with the Minister of their successful operations in Sri Lanka, challenges faced, recommendations and plans for the future. The Minister thanked and sought continuing partnership of the companies to elevate the key IT sector.
The Minister had separate discussions with Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consuls in the Scandinavian and Baltic Countries to review the work programme and identify ways to intensify bilateral efforts.
At separate bilateral discussions with the Speaker of the Riskdag Andreas Norlén, it was agreed to invigorate cooperation between the Legislatures. Similarly, with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström it was agreed to bolster the 74 year old engagement with Sweden.
Associated with the Foreign Minister for the visit and discussions were Sri Lanka’s Envoy to Sweden Dharshana M Perera, Director General Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chandana Weerasena, First Secretary of the Sri Lanka Embassy Stockholm Sasanga Nikapitiya, and Coordinating Secretary to the Minister Ulfath Uwais.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
18 May 2023