Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is concurrently accredited to the United Mexican States (Mexico), made his first official visit to Mexico City from 17 to 21 October 2023.
The principal objective of the visit was to conclude the ‘Bilateral agreement for the establishment of a mechanism of consultations on matters of common interest between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Mexican States and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’. The agreement, which was signed on 19 October at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico City, by the Ambassador on behalf of Sri Lanka will pave the way for future bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The signatory on behalf of Mexico was Ambassador Carmen Moreno Toscano, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, who ranks as a Vice Minister and who acts for the Secretary of Foreign Affairs (i.e. the Minister) in his absence.
During the wide ranging bilateral dialogue, Ambassador Samarasinghe briefed the Mexican officials on economic challenges faced by Sri Lanka and the measures being taken to overcome them including the IMF’s extended fund facility (EFF) and debt restructuring negotiations. He also discussed the reforms being undertaken to promote governance, human rights and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. With a view to advancing bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the Ambassador invited the Government of Mexico to consider conducting initial bilateral consultations, pursuant to the concluded agreement, in Colombo and handed over a written communication to this effect.
At a meeting with Counselor Roberto De Leon Huerta, Director General for Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador briefed the senior official on current attempts by the Government of Sri Lanka to foster human rights protection, improve governance and move towards reconciliation. They also discussed challenges to post conflict reconciliation efforts and how to address them. Mexico voted in favour of the last UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka and the Ambassador communicated details as to the current measures being undertaken by the Government to protect human rights in the country.
On 20 October, 2023, the Ambassador had a meeting with Senator Hector Vasconcelos, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission of the Mexican Senate The Ambassador handed over a letter from the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, recalling the past association and friendship between his father, the late Hon. Philip Gunawardena, and the Senator’s late father Jose Vasconcelos Calderon – a senior figure in the Mexican socialist movement in the early 20th Century. The Ambassador briefed the Senator on current developments in Sri Lanka.
On 19 and 20 October the Ambassador met with the leadership of Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE) and several leading Mexican personalities involved in trade and commercial enterprises who are members of the Council who have an interest in Sri Lanka, in Mexico City.
Mr. Jorge Lopez Morton, Vice Chairman of COMCE/Chairman Agricultural Committee/Chairman, Mexico–India-Iran-Turkey bilateral Committees and Mr. Agustin Garcia Rechy, Vice Chairman, Asia Pacific of COMCE along with other officers attended the meeting. The purpose was to further explore opportunities for Mexican businesses importing goods from Sri Lanka as well as exporting to Sri Lanka. In his initial comments, at the discussion, Ambassador Samarasinghe thanked COMCE for organizing the meeting and briefly highlighted the prospects for strengthening bilateral trade relations between our two countries.
Prospects of cooperation between chambers of commerce in Sri Lanka and Mexican trade chambers as well as the opportunities for setting up joint ventures between Sri Lankan exporters and Mexican companies to access the Mexican market as well as the re-export of goods to the United States were discussed.
The Ambassador noted that there are numerous fields including cinnamon, tea, porcelain and apparel in relation to which enhanced trade opportunities exist. Mr. Charitha Yattogoda, Minister/Commercial of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. made a detailed presentation to the attendees highlighting details related to the bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Mexico, especially enhancing potential exports to Mexico, investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka that includes new areas of opportunity such as the Port City of Colombo. The meeting ended with a question-and-answer session at which the Ambassador and Minister responded to queries from the audience.
The Ambassador was accompanied by Mr. Yattogoda, Minister/Commercial and Mr. Tharaka Dissanayake, Third Secretary.