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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2740

Sri Lankan Minister emphasises on business connectivity for an enhanced bilateral relations between Latvia and Lanka

Riga, 02 February, ( The meltdown of the world economy has been well fielded by Sri Lanka with safeguards in place making the economy resilient, to which the GSP plus facility also has contributed positively and its continuation together with and the increased integration of Sri Lanka products into the EU market are important, stated Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollgama during his discussions on 30th January, with Kaspars Gerharde, Minister of Economics of Latvia.

With reference to the investigation instituted on the GSP plus review, Minister Bogollgama explained that while the original objective of this facility was to strengthen developing economies, Sri Lanka is being evaluated on primarily political issues rather than economic aspects. The Foreign Minister stated that for Sri Lanka, the review process entails a dialogue, and would not permit any intrusive approach impinging on the country's sovereignty. It must be remembered, he said, that Sri Lanka has to overcome her biggest challenge of terrorism. The Latvian Minister espoused their support for dismantling trade barriers.

In the context of enhancing economic ties, Minister Bogollagama underscored the need to have formal structures in place for this purpose in the future. To this end the two Ministers agreed on the conclusion of the Agreements on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Investment Promotion and Protection, which are presently being processed.

Minister Bogollagama observed the need for business connectivity, considering that there is much potential for Sri Lankan business by procuring natural resources from Latvia and adding value to manufacture products. Considering Latvia's established dairy industry and Sri Lanka's requirement of milk powder, the Foreign Minister requested to explore ways and means in establishing this business link with a Latvian company.

The Sri Lankan Minister drew the attention of Minister Gerhards to the urgent need for connecting chambers, especially those which represent small and Medium Enterprises (SMES), which contribute immensely to the country's economy. Minister Bogollagama extended an invitation to Minister Gerhards to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka, and field a business delegation.

Being aware of the availability and a wide area for future relationships in passenger traffic and cargo transhipment, Minister Bogollagama and Ainars Slesers, the Latvian Minister of Transport discussed the related issues, when they met subsequently. It was decided that an Action Plan be formulated to carry forward co-operation in these areas.

With regard to passenger traffic, Minister Slesers endorsed the importance of promoting tourism between the two countries. Minister Bogollagama informed the meeting that ten Latvian Tour Guide Operators would travel to Colombo on a familiarization tour of the country. The two Ministers recognized the need for better air connectivity between Latvia and Sri Lanka to facilitate tourism. In this context, they also discussed the available facilities at the ports of entry to the two countries.

Considering a sizeable Sri Lankan student population in Latvia, Minister Bogollagama also had discussions on 30.01.09 with Markes Gruskevics, State Secretary of the Science and Education Ministry. Minister Bogollagama observed that there was a substantial decrease in the number of students presently studying in Riga which could be correlated to the difficulties in visa processing.

To address the shortcomings in this area, the Foreign Minister proposed the establishment of a formal structural framework. While the visa issue for potential students need to be adequately addressed,he suggested the expansion of educational opportunities by linking the State Universities of the two countries, at least at faculty levels.

At the request of the Minister Bogollagama, a draft text on education co-operation was provided for processing, which would formalize student exchanges between the two countries. The Latvian side concluded that collaboration in the education field would assist the two countries, since Latvia has a significant excess in the number of placements available in the universities ,while Sri Lanka mirrors this image with the number of students being in excess of the available seats.

It was agreed at the discussions to operationalise the student exchanges including academia and seek wider co-operation in education, through the formal agreement being processed for this purpose. With regard to widening the fields of study from medicine and dentistry, it was proposed that the areas of political science, biology, ecology, environment, social integration and languages be considered for inclusion.

- Asian Tribune -

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