The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, Jean – Marc Ayrault has last week extended his country’s firm support for Sri Lanka’s GSP + application and the lifting of the EU fisheries ban. According to a press release issued by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris, following the three-day visit of Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to France, Ayrault stated that the business conclave meeting concluded with the MEDEF International (Mouvement des entreprises de France), the most representative organization of the French private sector is a step in the right direction for a strengthened presence of French Investments in Sri Lanka. He added that many opportunities were also present in enhancing trade and tourism ties in consideration of the impressive growth projections for this year.
Foreign Minister Samaraweera, on a three day official visit to Paris, from June 1 to 3, 2016, reiterated his commitment to elevate the bilateral partnership with France to a higher level in all spheres of co-operation strengthening the existing bonds of friendship between the two countries.
At bilateral discussions with Ayrault, both Ministers acknowledged the longstanding affinities of the two countries bound by common values and aspirations. Minister Samaraweera, underlining the development goals of the government emphasized on the need to kick-start the country’s economy in order that the dividends of peace could be felt by all sections of the Sri Lanka society and in this respect sought greater engagement by France in the economic development process.
Addressing the MEDEF International (French Entrepreneurs Association) at a business conclave in Paris, Minister Samaraweera spoke in front of a large delegation of French entrepreneurs covering multiple sectors in which the French expertise were present internationally. Foreign Minister outlined the key economic targets of the Sri Lankan government and stressed the role of French investments in the country as a means of deepening the strategic partnership.
Minister Samaraweera also highlighted that the participation of French companies in the implementation of development projects reflected a new degree of confidence placed on the country and noted the growing enthusiasm generated internationally for such economic partnerships.
In this respect, Minister gave an overview of Sri Lanka’s performance on the macroeconomic level and emphasised on the Megapolis plan and other the new policies being devised for accelerated economic development, including the soon to be established one stop shop, the ‘Sri Lanka Development Agency’.
“Many of the giant French conglomerates expressed a keen interest to be a stakeholder in Sri Lanka’s economic development process. A delegation of French Investors will also participate at the World Export Development Forum to be held in October 2014. Mega French companies such as Airbus, Total, CMCGA, Suez, Vinci, Veolia, Safran, Thales, Bureau Veritas etc. have already established their presence in the country,” the press release from the Paris-based Sri Lankan Embassy said.
Meanwhile, Minister Samaraweera, during the visit also had meetings with Matthias Fekl French State Minister for Foreign Trade, Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, where both Ministers agreed to have an economic road map to deepen the current economic partnership.
At a meeting with the French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, André Vallini, the two Ministers discussed avenues for cooperation in expanding the role of the French Development Agency (AFD) in the country stressing also on the importance establishing a fully fledged resident AFD office in Sri Lanka.
Three agreements were also concluded during the visit on improving the Teaching of French in Sri Lanka, cooperation in the field of Cultural Heritage and the Sanitation and Hygiene Initiative for the Town of Negombo (SHIFT), which both Ministers saw as a further step towards strengthening relations.