SL, Thai leaders pledge bigger partnerships

Tuesday, 6 February 2024 01:03 –      – 15

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  • President Wickremesinghe unveils blueprint 
  • Says new vision anchored in trade, connectivity, shared heritage
  • Thai Prime Minister envisions flourishing collaboration in Sri Lanka’s hospitality, food and beverages, hotel supplies, skills development infrastructure, manufacturing and energy sectors
  • Thai Airways International to resume flights to Bangkok-Colombo from 31 March

In a significant development, President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday addressed the Thailand-Sri Lanka Business Forum at the Kingsbury Hotel, highlighting the auspicious timing of the event.

The President announced the signing of a ground-breaking free trade agreement (FTA) between Sri Lanka and Thailand, marking the second FTA with an ASEAN country.

Wickremesinghe emphasised the historic trade relationship between the two nations, which predates even the Sukhothai Kingdom. He urged a revival of this connection, considering the strategic positions of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean and Thailand in the Asia Pacific. The President also acknowledged the cultural ties, including shared traditions like the Ramayana and Theravada Buddhism.

The President welcomed Thailand’s Prime Minister and expressed enthusiasm for the proposed land bridge of Krah Canal, connecting Sri Lankan ports to the Asia Pacific. He highlighted the potential for regional logistics centres and discussed collaborative efforts in renewable energy, agriculture modernisation, and fisheries development.

He lauded the commitment to commercial Durian cultivation, with the Prime Minister offering assistance to modernise agriculture.

Tourism also took centre stage, with plans to provide land and historic buildings for development in strategic areas. President Wickremesinghe concluded by urging both nations to seize the opportunities presented and work collaboratively for mutual benefit.

Expressing his views at the Business Forum, the Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin highlighted potential collaborations in Sri Lanka’s growing hospitality industry, covering food and beverages, hotel supplies and skills development through cooperation between academies and hospitality institutes. Emphasising the cultural and religious bonds between the nations, he mentioned Thai Airways International’s resumption of daily flights between Bangkok and Colombo from 31 March.

The Prime Minister encouraged more Thai companies to invest in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure, manufacturing and energy sectors. He also urged increased tourism, suggesting Thai companies capitalise on Sri Lanka’s infrastructure projects and tourist advantages in markets like India, UAE, and the EU.

In terms of maritime connectivity, he identified Sri Lanka as a crucial partner in Thailand’s ambition to become a logistics hub in Southeast Asia, citing a land bridge project to connect the Andaman Sea with the Gulf of Thailand. Additionally, he welcomed Indonesia’s high-crystal ocean project in the coming years.

The Prime Minister assured that Thailand is open for business year-round, inviting collaboration to foster economic growth and move into an exciting future.