‘Climate conducive to improving Japan-SL economic relations’

Text of speech made by Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Special Assignments at the Japanese National Day function held in Colombo at the Japanese ambassador’s residence on December 2, representing the government of Sri Lanka.

Today, Sri Lanka's robust economic growth and development policy provide enormous potential for further enhancement of economic relations between our two countries, especially in trade, investment and tourism. Sri Lanka's total trade turnover with Japan has shown a threefold increase during the period of 2009-2014.

Keeping in line with the Economic Policy of the new Government, Sri Lanka offers a conducive, safe and stable environment to attract investment. This is, therefore, a high time for Japanese entrepreneurs to look at Sri Lanka, not only as an attractive business destination but also as a gateway to the entire South Asian region.

Under the framework of the Memorandum of Cooperation on Vitalization of Inter-Governmental Economic Policy Dialogue signed between the two countries during the visit of Prime Minster Abe in September last year, with a view to further expanding our bilateral trade, investment and economic engagement, we look forward to the convening of the first intergovernmental Economic Policy Dialogue between the two countries.

The goodwill and generosity of Japan demonstrated over the years in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA) has contributed significantly to the enhancement and advancement of Sri Lanka's economic and social landscape.We have witnessed successful completion of many landmark projects, with Japanese assistance. These development projects would no doubt be making a remarkable contribution to the economic and social development of our country.

We are also deeply appreciative of the assistance extended by Japan in the peace and reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, in the context of post-conflict development. In this regard, we also appreciate the visit of Dr. Motoo Noguchi, Prosecutor of Japan and former international Judge of the Khmer Rouge Trials.

The presidential election in January and the general elections in August 2015 marked two historic moments in Sri Lanka's political experience. Today, there is widespread recognition of the need to consolidate the hard won peace, and to ensure meaningful reconciliation by building an inclusive society, enabling people to live with self-respect and dignity. We look forward to Japan's consistent support, in our efforts to create a promising environment for genuine partnership with the international community.

I also take this opportunity to inform you that the dynamism and enthusiasm of His Excellency Kenichi Suganuma have resulted in significant achievements in furthering our bilateral relations. I am confident that the relations between our two countries will continue to flourish in the years ahead, building upon the strong foundation of friendship.

It gives me great pleasure to now invite you to join me in a toast:

To the health and wellbeing of His Imperial Majesty Akihito, the Emperor of Japan and the people of Japan,

To the close friendship, cooperation and partnership between Japan and Sri Lanka,

To the continued prosperity and success of Japan.

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