Sri Lanka’s free trade agreements positively impact the rebranding process as a major trading hub in Asia

Sri Lanka is being rebranded in order to aspire to be a major trading hub in Asia and its Free Trade Agreements (FTA) impact the rebranding process positively, according to the Executive Director of a premier national think tank in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Dinusha Panditharathne, Executive Director, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of Sri Lanka says that economic diplomacy is given priority and that adherence to the rule of law and good governance gave a new face to the rebranding process.

She expressed these views delivering a special lecture on the “Role of Sri Lanka in South Asia and Beyond: Emerging new Contours” on 19 January at the Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The special lecture was organized by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in New Delhi.

At the inception, the welcome remarks were made by Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General of the RIS and the session was chaired by Ashok Sajjanhar, former Indian Diplomat.

Dr. Panditharathne reflected on four emerging contours and Sri Lanka’s role in South Asia and beyond. She identified these contours as; Sri Lanka in the center of the Indian Ocean gaining a South Asian geographic identity; In the past focusing on political diplomacy, but now more towards economic diplomacy; Strategically non-aligned, but cautious and actively engaging with regional powers and Seeking to demonstrate that Sri Lanka follows regional and international norms.

The presentation encapsulated the discernible shifts in these characteristics. She noted that these four developments in Sri Lanka’s foreign relations are nascent, but generally positive. Pursued in combination, these developments will elevate Sri Lanka’s standing, while strengthening its neighborhood relations Dr. Panditharathne added.

At the end of the special lecture, Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India made special remarks referring to current developments, in which she highlighted that Sri Lanka has to face many challenges.

She emphasized that Sri Lanka is a resilient country and that Sri Lanka is developing the economy in order to play an important role as a hub in the region while pursuing political stability and promoting links with the international community. The High Commissioner referred to India’s neighborhood policy and Sri Lanka – India linkages which contributes to closer engagement between the two countries.

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