Sri Lanka and the Philippines agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in a number of spheres, including education, science and technology, tourism, trade, agriculture and reciprocal capacity building in expatriate labour.
This was agreed upon during a meeting between Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera and Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs (rank of Deputy Minister) of the Philippines Madam Erlinda F. Basilio
Madam Basilion visited the country on an invitation extended by the Deputy Minister from 14th to 15th May. Minister Perera, in the capacity of the Acting Minister of External Affairs had discussions with the visiting dignitary. The discussions focused on further strengthening relations between the two countries.
Sri Lanka and the Philippines celebrated the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations in 2011.
The two Ministers agreed on the necessity to establish a bilateral policy review mechanism between the respective Foreign Ministries. It was noted that such a mechanism would further strengthen cooperation in the bilateral sphere. Two Memoranda of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation and Exemption of Visa Requirement for Diplomatic and Official Passport Holders are to be concluded in the near future.
The Acting Minister apprised the visiting delegation of the many investment opportunities currently available in Sri Lanka and invited the Philippine private sector to positively look in to business ventures, especially considering Sri Lanka as a gateway to the South Asian region. “The favourable Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan along with Sri Lanka’s strategic location make it an attractive hub in the region” the Acting Minister added.
The Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines also spoke of the many benefits that would accrue to the Sri Lanka business sector in engaging the corporate sector of her country, particularly in view of its location as an entry point to the vast East Asian market.
Acting Minister Neomal Perera sincerely thanked the Philippine government for its steadfast support for Sri Lanka during the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. The two Ministers also agreed to work together in the security and defence spheres, especially in dealing with terrorism. The two countries would look into intelligence sharing and forging closer links between the militaries. The Philippines Undersecretary, during her visit also called on Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa and discussed numerous avenues of strengthening trade and investments.