Sri Lanka has been making a tremendous progress in all aspects of development since the dawn of peace in 2009 which merits positive recognition from its longstanding friends like the United States, Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya told a group of senior congressional staffers recently.
The Embassy of Sri Lanka hosted a dinner reception for members of the House Chiefs of Staff Association (HCoSA) at the Sri Lanka Residence in Washington DC in order to update them on latest developments in Sri Lanka.
“We have diplomatic relations with the US spanning 65 years since our independence. The United States is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner and the trade relationship between our countries dates back to 200 years” the Ambassador apprised the gathering.
The Ambassador further informed the audience that Sri Lanka's intention is to further consolidate the positive relationship with the US.
“ If you compare Sri Lanka today with what it was for the three decades before the dawn of peace in 2009, you will realize the country has never been so stable , peaceful and with such strong economic potential as it is today under the visionary leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa”, he stated.
“The peace certainly has its dividends. Sri Lanka had an 8.4% GDP growth in 2011 and 22% growth in the former conflict affected areas. Unemployment rate has dropped to 4%. Tourist arrivals is up by 100%. Sri Lanka has been nominated as the best travel destination for 2013 by Lonely Planet. The World Bank has recognized Sri Lanka as the best place to do business in the region in its ease to do business ranking. Most recently World Justice Project ranked Sri Lanka highest among its regional peers in the ‘Rule of Law Index 2012’.These are tangible examples of Sri Lanka’s progress”, he revealed.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya further opined, “a country doing well would be a more reliable and mutually beneficial partner in a bilateral relationship than a country in decline". He requested the cooperation of congressional officials to bring Sri Lanka- US ties to the next level through increased understanding of the true situation in Sri Lanka.
“Our nation suffered through a 30 year conflict with terrorism. The LTTE, the perpetrator of terror in our country was classified as the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world. Now, it is over and there is ample opportunity for both countries to benefit from an enhanced relationship”, the Ambassador declared.
“Sri Lanka is very keen in enhancing trade relationship with the US. Some of the US corporate giants like Boeing, Caterpillar, Marriott, Starwood, 3M, John Deere, and Coca-Cola have already recognized Sri Lanka’s business potential”, he said.
“Please inform your members about the correct story of Sri Lanka”, he added.
In conclusion, Ambassador Wickramasuriya invited HCoSA members to visit Sri Lanka and experience what he said about the country. He informed that the congressional delegation visit to Sri Lanka organized by the Embassy next year would be an opportunity for them to visit Sri Lanka and see at first hand the tremendous development that has taken place since the advent of peace.