The other speakers who participated in this inaugural session of Distinguished Visitor Lecture Series included Shivshankar Menon, former national security advisor to the Prime Minister of India; Ambassador Gopinath Pillai, Chairman of the ISAS; and Sanjeev Sanyal, economist, writer and visiting fellow of IDFC Institute of Mumbai, India.
Speaking on the theme ‘Sri Lanka’s Role in the Indian Ocean and the Changing Global Dynamic’, Dr. de Silva explained that the Government was planning to leverage the country’s geo-strategic position to maximise relationships with both historic and new trading partners to reach the goal of repositioning Sri Lanka as a hub of the Indian Ocean as well as a transhipment port for Bay of Bengal trade.
He emphasised the need for a wise foreign policy given the geopolitical realities of the region and to ensure the prosperity and safety of future generations. In his address, the Deputy Minister also stated that Sri Lanka supported the One Belt-One Road economic initiative in line with its historical role played in the Maritime Silk Route, which will consolidate the country’s position to become the hub of the Indian Ocean while further integrating it with Asian markets.
During the visit, the Deputy Minister also met with Second Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albert Chua, and discussed training collaboration between the two foreign ministries. At the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Deputy Minister met with Dr. Francis Chong, Director General and discussed the status of the ongoing FTA negotiations between the two countries. The Deputy Minister briefed the Singapore side about the i3 concept mooted with a view to entering a tripartite trade agreement involving Sri Lanka, Singapore and New Zealand. This concept put forward by Sri Lanka is aimed at boosting intra-commonwealth trade and investment based on the ‘Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment’. (Daily FT)