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Vietnam expresses willingness to develop bilateral links with Sri Lanka

By: Staff Writer Colombo (LNW): Vietnam has expressed willingness to develop its bilateral relations with Sri Lanka more effectively, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang said.when he met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Tokyo. Talking to the Sri Lankan leader, Deputy PM Tran Luu Quang, who is paying a working visit to Japan, affirmed that Vietnam consistently attaches importance to the traditional friendship and multifaceted cooperation with Sri Lanka and wishes to develop bilateral relations more effectively and substantively. He suggested both countries promote partnerships in multiple aspects, including increasing all-level mutual visits and people-to-people exchange; effectively carrying out existing bilateral cooperation mechanism. Bilateral cooperation mechanism has focused particularly on the Joint Committee chaired by the two foreign ministries; signing cooperation documents on education, culture, and agriculture; and strengthen trade links to raise bilateral trade to 500 million USD in the near future. Tran Luu Quang also called for expanding ties to other potential fields, opening direct air routes to boost tourism, and maintaining close coordination at regional and international forums, especially the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. Recalling his impression during a visit to Vietnam as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, President Wickremesinghe underlined support for the countries’ relations to develop more strongly and recommended that the two sides enhance cooperation in the economy, trade, investment, tourism, and climate change response, and at multilateral mechanisms. He also shared his country’s efforts and policies to surmount economic challenges, noting that during that process, it hopes to foster economic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and take part in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), with Vietnam being a member of both. As a country struggling to maintain its middle income status, for Sri Lanka to turnaround its economic fortunes will depend on how successful it will be in opening up to the rest of the world similar to what Vietnam has been able to accomplish until now. While there are marked differences with the two countries such as the governance structure, the two countries have endured similar internal and external political challenges such as colonization, internal conflict and balancing geopolitical rivalries. Therefore, as the two countries celebrate fifty two years of friendship and cooperation, it is timely to create a stronger foundation by investing more efforts in strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties, which, despite recent progress, remain rather limited. Sri Lankan investments in Vietnam mainly concentrated on apparel and textile manufacturing, Desiccated coconut industries, shipping service. The leading Sri Lankan companies operating in Vietnam are Hirdaramani Group with two certified textile manufacturing plants and Linea Aqua (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of MAS Holdings. Despite the import restrictions the Trade balance for 2022 was in favour of Vietnam with their exports to Sri Lanka USD 255 million while Lanka imports slipped from USD 62 million in 2021 to 45 million in 2022. Main exports from Sri Lanka to Vietnam are apparel, knitted or crocheted fabrics, oil-cake and other solid residues, different kinds of yarns, tea, refining copper and copper alloys. Vietnam’s major exports to Sri Lanka include seafood, chemical products, plastic materials, rubber, fiber and yarns of all kinds, textiles, computers and Electronic Products and Cell Phones and Accessories.

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