Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera last week said he is keen to undertake the task of restructuring the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that the institution will be oriented more towards economic diplomacy and closer engagement with the members of the Diplomatic Community.
Addressing the Diplomatic Corps based in Colombo on August 28, 2015, Samaraweera said the Government is keen to pursue new trade agreements with foreign countries and aims to set up 45 Economic Development Zones with 11 Industrial and Technological Zones throughout the country including in Hambantota for ship building and manufacturing, Ragama for consumer and new technology, Maha Oya, Vanni and Killinochchi for manufacturing, Colombo for commercial and monetary services, Kandy, Jaffna and Galle for IT.
“As much as we would need your invaluable support in terms of technical expertise in the setting up of domestic mechanisms and assistance for peace-building related efforts such as resettlement, infrastructure development, and providing psycho-social support, we think the time has now come to focus our attention to other areas as well which will contribute to strengthening our economy.
This, we are of the view, will be key in ensuring long-term peace and stability and preventing the recurrence of conflict,” the Minister said in his first address to the Diplomatic Community after he was sworn as the Minister of Foreign Affairs recently.
He said that Sri Lanka wanted to discuss on securing access for our goods and services in the global market
“We look to you for assistance in terms of expertise in enhancing the quality of our goods and services for this purpose to be able to plug into value chains. We want to focus on making our exports competitive. We want to create new jobs. We want to equip our young people with the technical skills required for success in the present job markets around the world.”
”As you are aware, Sri Lanka has in place, free trade agreements with both India and Pakistan. We would like to invite investors in your respective countries to explore opportunities available in setting up manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka to access the large markets in the subcontinent. “
Towards achieving these objectives, Minister Samaraweera assured the diplomatic community that the Government will enact necessary legislation required to create investor confidence without delay.
“But we are aware that legislative reform alone will not reset the investment climate. Therefore, ensuring policy stability and creating a level playing field for all investors is a priority for the new government. The bi-partisan consensus resulting from the National Government I am sure will aid in this process,” he said adding that fighting corruption will be one of the Government’s primary objectives and new laws and institutions in line with the UN Principles on Anti-Corruption will be adopted.