The second meeting of the Sri Lanka - Malaysia Joint Commission concluded on 22ndOctober 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, discussed on practical strategies intended towards strengthening and consolidating further the bilateral partnership.
The meeting was co-chaired by Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs and Dato’ Hamzah Zainudin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia.
The meeting took note of the extensive preparations being made by Sri Lanka to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013 and Malaysia confirmed their Prime Minister’s participation at the Summit. While appreciating Malaysia’s attendance at the Commonwealth Business Forum 2013, Sri Lanka also invited the Malaysian business community to attend the Trade Fair ‘Reflection of Sri Lanka’ which will be held from 13-17 November 2013, parallel to the CHOGM and Commonwealth Business Forum.
During the Joint Commission, both Ministers expressed satisfaction on the progress made in bilateral relations and noted that close cooperation and partnership between the two countries have expanded rapidly in recent years.
The two parties resolved to conduct the Joint Commission regularly while Malaysia also agreed to Sri Lanka's proposal to establish Bilateral Political Consultations between the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs. In order to give a greater political impetus to strengthening interactions amongst the higher echelon of the leadership both sided endorsed the necessity for high-level visits and also the establishment of a Parliamentary Friendship Group in facilitating the two legislative bodies to develop a deeper understanding of pertinent issues.
The Ministers took note of trade and investment relations as the driving force of the economic partnership, with Malaysia securing it’s position as the number one investor in Sri Lanka recording a cumulative investment figure of US $ 1.4 bn. However as a further measure to promote mutually beneficial trade the two countries agreed to constitute a working group on trade to address pragmatic issues such as the need for trade diversification etc.
It was also agreed in principle to explore the feasibility of having a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries. Sri Lanka highlighted its plans of establishing special zones for specific industries and invited Malaysian investors to take advantage of this opportunity. The Joint Commission paid special attention to promoting two way investments while the Malaysian side expressed desire to invest in various promising sectors such as tourism, urban infrastructure development and especially in mixed development projects etc.
The meeting particularly focused on engagement in other conducive areas for bilateral co-operation such as migrant labour, tourism & the hospitality industry, agriculture & fisheries, culture, human resources development and education etc. where it was noted that based on the existing complementarities a win – win partnership could be accrued to both countries.
In a measure to outline modalities of co-operation, it was resolved to conclude Memoranda of Understanding in these sectors with particular emphasis on reviving the MOU signed in 2003 with the Malaysian government for creating employment opportunities for the Sri Lanka labour force in Malaysia. Both sides also resolved to strengthen co-operation between the immigration departments of the two countries in giving a specific focus to addressing irregular migrants’ issues.
Cultural co-operation was highlighted in the context of strengthening further the bonds of friendship between the two peoples and it was noted that under the scheme “Malaysia My Second Home” many Sri Lankans who have migrated to Malaysia were productively contributing to the country’s development process.
The Ministers also exchanged views on a wide range of regional and international issues of mutual interest. Sri Lanka and Malaysia also acknowledged each other’s support in the regional and international fora with regard to core issues of interest and agreed to give due consideration to each other’s candidacies in the UN and related bodies, says the Ministry of External Affairs.