Biography of Jaliya Wickramasuriya
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka
to the United States of America & to the United Mexican States
His Excellency Jaliya Wickramasuriya presented his credentials as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United States to President George Bush in July 2008.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya served previously as Consul General of Sri Lanka in California. He has played a critical role as Sri Lanka’s liaison to the United States government during a vital period of Sri Lanka’s history.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya has been at the forefront of the diplomatic efforts to build on Sri Lanka’s strong relationships with the U.S. government, members of Congress and Sri Lanka’s Asian neighbors and trading partners. Ambassador Wickramasuriya has also been instrumental in building strong ties within the Sri Lankan community in the United States.
Jaliya Wickramasuirya was born in Matara, Sri Lanka on July 8, 1960. He began his career as a businessman and entrepreneur working in the Sri Lankan tea industry. He served as a management trainee selected by internationally renowned businessman Merrill J. Fernando, the founder of the well-known Dilmah brand, one of the world’s largest and best known tea companies. Of his 20 years of senior management work in the tea business, Ambassador Wickramasuriya spent 18 years with Dilmah before establishing his own tea company, Ceylon Royal Tea.
The company sells its Chami brand as the best Ceylon tea available in the United States. Ambassador Wickramasuriya eventually moved to Atlanta, Ga., and became a U.S. resident to enhance Chami’s North American marketing and distribution.
Jaliya Wickramasuriya’s international experience, negotiating skills and knowledge of the United States led to his appointment as a diplomat. He ended his commercial interests and surrendered his U.S. residency upon his appointment as a diplomat.
As ambassador, Jaliya Wickramasuriya has relied on his business and management skills to direct Sri Lanka’s Washington, D.C. embassy staff on a variety of initiatives that complement developments in Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya has also aided Sri Lanka’s emergence as a key Asian economic power through frequent interaction with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and a variety of American corporations.
Many economists believe that Sri Lanka is now experiencing rapid post-conflict economic expansion. Sri Lanka’s workforce is highly skilled and educated with a national literacy rate of more than 90 percent, and the country has launched an aggressive program to attract foreign investment.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has recovered quickly, with tourist arrivals up nearly 50 percent in 2010. The New York Times in January named Sri Lanka as its number one place to visit in 2010. National Geographic and the luxury living website DailyCandy.com also gave Sri Lanka top marks as a travel destination.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya’s duties are focused on Sri Lanka’s redevelopment and reconciliation efforts both at home and in the U.S. He has launched a number of initiatives to benefit Sri Lanka, including an annual Private-Public Partnership Conference in cooperation with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and, in August 2010, an Ambassador’s “Signature Tour” of Sri Lanka for 25 influential American professionals and business people.
Today, Ambassador Wickramasuriya continues to serve as Sri Lanka’s most vocal and visible advocate in the U.S. The ambassador’s wife and two teenage children also live in the United States.
Embassy of Sri Lanka