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Sri Lanka forges ahead with FTAs with ASEAN countries – President

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW):President Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed that Sri Lanka’s intention to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is poised to materialize following the conclusion of credit optimization initiatives.

Additionally, the President announced plans to initiate negotiations for the establishment of free trade agreements with corresponding ASEAN member countries, the President’s Media Division (PMD) reported.

President Wickremesinghe’s statement underscores the country’s determination to bolster its economic connectivity within the broader Asian region.

The President affirmed his alignment with the future vision of ASEAN for the Indo-Pacific area, pledging full support for the advancement of this strategic perspective, it said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks while addressing the 56th anniversary of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Tuesday (08) at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Colombo, according to the PMD.

He acknowledged the efforts of former President J. R. Jayawardena, his father and other influential figures who advocated for opening up the economy and joining ASEAN during its founding years as well as the Shenoy reforms for liberalization of the economy and to ensure the welfare program stayed within the needs.

The President remarked that turning down the opportunity to join ASEAN led to a period of socialist economic policies and limited capital formations, hindering the country’s growth potential.

The President further explained the circumstance that converted a source of profound regret. He said subsequently, over a span of three years, Sri Lanka transitioned into a socialist economic model, leading to the fragmentation of the capital formations, and has continued to progress in this trajectory.

The President also expressed regret that Sri Lanka had declined an invitation to join ASEAN in its early years, citing missed opportunities for economic prosperity. However, he highlighted a new policy approach to collaborate closely with ASEAN to enhance Sri Lanka’s position in the global arena.

In light of Sri Lanka’s recent financial challenges and the need for rejuvenation, President Wickremesinghe expressed a renewed commitment to pursue closer ties with ASEAN.

Amid the looming threat of bankruptcy, Sri Lanka has embraced the challenge head-on, aiming to move forward with inspiration drawn from proactive problem-solving approaches.

This involves looking at the accomplishments of the ASEAN and enhancing collaboration with the organization.

This strategic approach is firmly rooted in the government’s policies. This approach, championed by the current administration, is expected to resonate with other governments as well.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Ambassador, Dewi Gustina Tobing, highlighted the significance of the ASEAN viewing Sri Lanka as a vital partner for regional cooperation. With a collective population exceeding 670 million, roughly 8.8% of the global populace, ASEAN represents the world’s third-largest market.

The Ambassador emphasized the importance of fostering stronger ties between ASEAN and Sri Lanka. The aim is to promote people-to-people connections and create a closer link between the two regions, the PMD mentioned.

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