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Sri Lanka has a long string of impressive events to mark 40th anniversary of diplomatic relationsNew Year interview with Ambassador Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka in Seoul

Korea and Sri Lanka celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relationship and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Seoul has a long string of very interesting events slated for this year to celebrate the special occasion. This was disclosed at a recent interview with Ambassador Madam Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka in Seoul. Details of the interview follow:

President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka

Question: What are the major New Year development plans of your esteemed country in the New Year in economic and political fields in 2017?

Answer: This year is very special for Sri Lanka’s bilateral relations with the Republic of Korea, as our two countries will celebrate the establishment of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations on 14 November 2017. The Sri Lanka Embassy in Korea therefore hopes to commemorate this important milestone through the year 2017. Accordingly, many activities have been planned which will commence with the celebration of the 69th Independence Day of Sri Lanka in February 2017 in Seoul with two receptions hosted by the Embassy, one for Korean dignitaries and the diplomatic corps, and another in Gimpo City for the Sri Lankan community living in Korea with the participation of Korean dignitaries and employers of Sri Lankan workers.

Ambassador Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka

Q: Do you have any promotional plans for the further development of relations between Korea and Sri Lanka, including the possible dispatch of an economic delegation.

A: The Embassy of Sri Lanka has drawn up a plan including 14 activities/promotional events throughout 2017 including a Sri Lanka Food Festival at the Millennium Seoul Hilton (May 2017), Sri Lankan dance performances in Seoul and other cities by a renowned dance troupe from Sri Lanka (May 2017), a Sri Lanka photo exhibition in Seoul (May 2017) and a Sri Lanka Film Festival in Seoul. Sri Lankan travel trade will also participate in travel fairs in Korea including KOTFA, to showcase Sri Lanka as an attractive tourist destination. In addition to this, discussions are underway to have a Korean investment and business delegation visit Sri Lanka in May-June 2017 to participate in the Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2017 to be held in Colombo, and to have an importers delegation from KOIMA visit Sri Lanka this year.

Sigiriya Rock

Q: Please introduce the Head of Government of your country with a copy of the portrait photograph of the Head of Government.

A: The Head of State and Government of Sri Lanka is His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena. President Sirisena was elected as the 6th Executive President of Sri Lanka at the presidential election held on 8 January 2015, having contested as the Common Candidate on a mandate of good governance, anti-corruption and strengthening of democratic institutions of the country. Born in September 1951, President Sirisena joined mainstream politics in 1989 and has held several key ministerial portfolios since 1994. He has also been the longest serving Secretary General of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), one of the two main political parties of Sri Lanka.

President Sirisena currently holds the portfolios of the Minister of Defence, Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, and the Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation of Sri Lanka. More information on the President can be obtained from his website www.president.gov.lk.

Colombo City

Q: In what areas of the economy are Korean companies welcome in Sri Lanka? Do you have any specific Korean business organisations in mind favourably considered for economic cooperation with Sri Lanka?

A: Korea remains as an important sources of foreign direct investment to Sri Lanka. Korean investment in Sri Lanka has over 70 companies based in the country, and has generated more than 8,000 job opportunities in the country.

The sectors in which Sri Lanka welcomes investment and joint ventures by Korean companies are as follows:

Manufacturing sector

Auto components, machinery and appliances, electronic and electrical products, pharmaceuticals, rubber based products, value added gems and jewellery.

Infrastructure development

Western Region Megapolis Development Plan

Urban housing and town centre development

Construction of commercial buildings

Construction of hospitals and provision of healthcare services

Development of water services

Provision of sanitation facilities or waste management systems

Development of internal waterways and related transport

Construction of expressways

Construction of shopping and office complexes

Tourism

Vast potential in tourism investment in Sri Lanka with tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka poised to double by 2020. Opportunities include:

Construction of hotels, beach resorts, villas

Water, theme and amusement parks

Adventure sports and tourism

Agro tourism, eco-tourism, Ayurvedic and religious tourism (historical Buddhist sites and monuments)

Domestic air travel / sea planes

Golf courses

IT (Information Technology) area

Software industry, BPM/IT and IT enables services, Educational institutions, Apparel and textiles, and Agriculture, dairy and fisheries

Agro-processing: fruits, vegetables

Dairy sector

Fisheries including processing, cold storage and warehousing facilities

Rice and cereal-based products

Cultivation of bran/bran oil and animal feed

Crops cultivable in the North with export potential

Sri Lanka continues to cooperate closely with Korean economic institutions including the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), Korea International Trade Association (KITA), Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) and the Chambers of Commerce including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Busan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The latter two Chambers have MOUs with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The Embassy is hopeful of closer cooperation in the economic field in 2017.

Sri Lanka Wild Life

Q: Please state whatever other important details we might have left out from the above questionnaire?

A: Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea as two Asian countries have longstanding friendly relations continuing from historical times. Following the inauguration of the national unity Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Sri Lanka in 2015, there is greater focus on widening and deepening the friendly relations with Korea, with particular emphasis on the political and economic sectors. In this regard, we look forward to stronger bonds of friendship in 2017.

Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koeapost.com

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