Foreign Minister proposes special investment zone to SL for South Korea

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Trade and investment, political cooperation, defense initiatives, tourism and labor issues dominated discussions in Seoul, Republic of Korea, between Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Prof. GL Peiris, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Chung Eui-yong.

Minister Prof. Peiris paid tribute to the multi-faceted relationship that has developed between the two countries during their 44-year relationship, and its current robust character.

He referred to the first meeting of the Joint Economic and Trade Commission held in Colombo in June 2018. The two ministers agreed to prioritize the organization of an early date for the next meeting in order to move forward a number of important questions.

The trade balance between the two countries is clearly in South Korea’s favor, with Sri Lanka’s exports to the Republic of Korea valued at approximately USD 71 million, while imports to Sri Lanka from the Republic Korea are at the threshold of approximately USD 192 million. Ministers agreed to explore practical ways of overcoming some of the significant trade barriers, including in particular tariffs on value-added products such as flavored teas.

Minister Chung Eui-yong responded positively to Minister Peiris’ request for increased dollar assistance from the EXIM Bank of the Republic of Korea and more development assistance from KOICA. The ministers reviewed the very beneficial impact of South Korea’s development programs in Sri Lanka, especially in the areas of water management, waste disposal and secondary education. The Republic of Korea’s foreign minister said he would urge the South Korean private sector to consider greater investments in Sri Lanka, especially in the areas of computer technology, electronics and pharmaceuticals . Minister Peiris recalled that in a previous period, there was in Sri Lanka a special investment zone for entrepreneurs from the Republic of Korea. The Korea Business Association (KBA) was very active in Sri Lanka at the time. Ministers agreed that it would be appropriate to consider relaunching this initiative and expressed their determination to work on it.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister reiterated his country’s interest in receiving two boats from the Republic of Korea.

Regarding tourism, it was noted that around 12,500 tourists visited Sri Lanka from the ROK before the onset of COVID 19. As Sri Lankan Airlines operates a direct flight between Colombo and Seoul, the Minister of the ROK agreed to work on increasing the number. tourists visiting Sri Lanka from the Republic of Korea, and also stimulate greater South Korean investment in the hospitality sector in Sri Lanka.

Minister Peiris expressed appreciation for the generous assistance received from the Republic of Korea to combat the COVID-19 virus in Sri Lanka. Equipment worth approximately US $ 300,000 has already been received, with commitments for further assistance. The Sri Lankan minister requested the cooperation of the Republic of Korea to speed up the vaccination of 22,000 Sri Lankans working in the Republic of Korea.

The two foreign ministers had in-depth discussions on cooperation in international fora, including the Human Rights Council in Geneva.


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