Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has met with France’s Minister Delegate for Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester at the Foreign Ministry in Paris to discuss French support for the expansion of economic relations with Sri Lanka in a variety of sectors.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two Ministers at the conclusion of their discussion, the Foreign Ministry said.
The Foreign Minister attended several meetings at the Chamber of Commerce of France and also met with Counsellor Bernard Quinet and Head of International Business Networks Estelle Gillot at the Chamber of Commerce.
The main focus of discussion was networking arrangements between French and Sri Lankan companies and French expertise for educational programmes in entrepreneurship, business management and related subjects, the statement said.
Prof. Peiris held discussions with Francois Corbin of MEDEF International, the largest association of companies in France.
Among the other representatives of the corporate sector he met in Paris were Secretary General of the company M21 Life Sciences Christian Leroux and Vice President of Marketing Strategy Thales DIS Jean-Claude Perrin.
The Sri Lankan and French authorities maintain regular dialogue on political and economic issues. France’s leading import remains the textile and clothing sector with nearly 59% of total imports.
France maintains dynamic cooperation with Sri Lanka for development with a key aim being to rebuild the infrastructures in regions affected by the civil war.
In 2005, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) committed €89 million to rebuilding infrastructures damaged by the December 2004 tsunami.
Since 2010, the AFD has been working in Sri Lanka under a mandate to promote green and inclusive growth in the sectors of water and sanitation, energy and urban development. These commitments total €360 million.
The network of four Alliance Française branches on the island (in Kotte in the Colombo suburbs, in Kandy in the central region, in Matara/Galle in the south and in Jaffna in the north) is a special partnership for major annual events celebrating French culture:
Fête de la francophonie and “French Spring”. French is the leading European language taught at secondary level after English in Sri Lanka, 150 teachers teach French to 11,000 students.