India’s Deputy High Commissioner, Vinod K. Jacob, recently addressed the Indian CEO Forum in Colombo and emphasized the strong friendship between India and Sri Lanka, especially the cooperation within the of the five pillars of economy, finance, partnership for development, capacity building and people-to-people links. . India was Sri Lanka’s second largest trading partner in 2020.
This increased further in 2021 to $5.23 billion. India is also one of the largest investors in Sri Lanka with total FDI of over $1.7 billion over the past 15 years.
“India and Sri Lanka have sought to further develop their relationship by harnessing complementary strengths and enhancing mutual understanding on economic issues,” he added.
The Deputy High Commissioner recalled the $400 million currency swap, the deferral of $515 million owed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to the Reserve Bank of India under the Asian Clearing Union and a line $500 million credit for fuel imports from India. In addition, a $1 billion line of credit for the importation of food, medicine and essential items by Sri Lanka from India is also under discussion.
The Deputy High Commissioner also highlighted the development partnership and capacity building program with Sri Lanka, in addition to highlighting people-to-people ties as one of the most important factors that enable the bilateral relationship. India has for many years been the largest source market for tourism in Sri Lanka.
“In 2021, 1.94 lakh tourists arrived in Sri Lanka, including 56,268 from India, accounting for about 29% of total arrivals,” he said.
The Deputy High Commissioner also mentioned the complementary nature of cooperation between India and Sri Lanka in the health sector and noted the delivery of COVISHIELD under “Vaccine Maitri”, the supply of medical oxygen , 26 tons of medical supplies and the donation of 100,000 antigen rapid test kits. On defense and security, he highlighted the role played by the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard during the MT New Diamond and MV Express Pearl disasters in 2020 and 2021 respectively, which is a testament to India’s policy of neighborhood first.
Ahead of the Deputy High Commissioner’s speech, the Indian CEO Forum held a discussion on India’s budget for the year 2022-23, which was also attended by representatives of the Indian High Commission.