Milinda Moragoda Minister for Economic Reform, Science and Technology Sri Lanka Ladies and Gentlemen, At the outset, I would like to express, on behalf of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Government and the people of Sri Lanka, their profound appreciation to Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, and through him, to the Government of the United States, for having convened this Seminar in preparation for our meeting in Tokyo in June. Equally, we extend our profound appreciation to the Government of Japan for acting as host to the June Conference, which will be of critical significance for the peaceful resolution of the bitter conflict that has fractured our society, and ravaged our country for two decades. No less do we thank the Governments of all the countries represented at this Seminar for their concern and support. We are the more grateful because these meetings that concern Sri Lanka are being convened at a time when the world's attention is drawn to momentous events taking place elsewhere. It is our hope that this demonstration of friendly concern will have its own recompense in the form of satisfaction at being able to assist a process that brings peace and unity to a country and hope for 19 million people. * * * * Ladies and Gentlemen, The world was a different place after the tragedy of September 11th 2001. So too was Sri Lanka. Just months before, in July, an attack by the LTTE severely damaged our only international airport. If that was our darkest hour, the dawn would not be far away. It strengthened our resolve to end a senseless conflict. Since the Government of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe took office some 15 months ago, every effort has been made to arrive at a peaceful resolution of the conflict. With this in mind we invited the Norwegian Government to continue with the facilitation process that was initiated by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. As a result of the commitment of the Norwegian Government and the sincerity and resolve of the two parties to the conflict, there is now hope for a peaceful end to the bloody hostilities that have killed more people than the United States lost in the entire Vietnam War and has spread terror throughout our country and crippled its economy. The peace process in Sri Lanka has been a matter of learning by doing. However, our philosophy has been rooted in a principled framework that is predictable in approach, flexible when appropriate but firm and resolute when necessary. One reason why the conflict had spread over so many years was that there seemed no way out of it. Some believed that a military solution was feasible. Others, who thought that a peaceful solution could be found, were disappointed, as one negotiation after another ended in failure and renewed hostilities. The approach of the present Government has been different. With a genuine desire to address the lingering issues that had given rise to conflict, we were willing to listen, to learn, and to be patient and inventive in our quest for peace. On the other hand, we would not close our eyes to the possibility of failure, and would be prepared to deal with its consequences. With an open but cautious approach, we can claim now to have made substantial progress toward what we believe to be our common goal. The visionary leadership of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and his willingness to look with fresh eyes on the complexities of the situation have resulted in agreement on a cease fire, and acceptance by both sides of the political risks necessary to carry the process forward. Most importantly, we have effectively engaged the international community in our quest. We need their concern, their assistance, and their support in our endeavours. That the international community should recognize that they, too, have a stake in the outcome of these negotiations - that, we believe, is our surest guarantee of success. No one should expect that the issues over which thousands of our countrymen have given their lives could be resolved in a brief negotiation. Twenty years of conflict have wounded minds as well as bodies. Those wounds will take some time to heal; they have generated a climate of fear and mistrust in a country that is home to communities of different ethnic origins, of different religious persuasions, and speaking different languages; communities that must come to recognize that it is only through harmony and collaboration that prosperity for all can be achieved. Some donors may, as a matter of policy, think it desirable to postpone granting us assistance until the current negotiations are concluded and a peace accord has been signed. We appeal to them to reconsider that approach in the circumstances of our case. There are many instances where accords have remained on paper, where beneficiaries have been denied a chance to feel the benefits of peace. There is no doubt that without donor support from the outset, economic recovery could turn out to be a distant prospect. If we are unable to demonstrate now, in a preliminary way, the dividend that peace will bring, we risk the negative effects of frustration among the parties, a breakdown of the negotiations, and the resumption of hostilities. By allowing the flow of assistance to commence now, we could begin to show to every section of our people, including the LTTE, that a peaceful accommodation of interests will bring tangible prosperity and a better quality of life for all. In support of our appeal for the timely commencement of assistance that would speed Sri Lanka's economic recovery, we offer the progress thus far achieved under complex and volatile conditions. Whenever ceasefire violations have taken place, both parties have displayed the wisdom and maturity not to scuttle the peace process and revert to violence. Our negotiators have been able to remain focused on the common goal of a political solution. From having to deal with the demand for a separate state, they have moved to a consideration of patterns of devolution within a federal system. The atmosphere at the negotiations has progressed from mutual suspicion tinged with hatred, to mutual caution, in a continuing trend that is fostered through confidence-building measures. Moreover, we would be willing to offer such assurances as may be needed as to the proper use and accountability for the funds provided. Urgent tasks Funds are urgently required for both the immediate needs of reconstruction, rehabilitation and relief as well as for laying the foundations for overall economic recovery after two decades of destructive and debilitating conflict. I would like to outline first the tasks that demand our immediate attention.
  1. There are some 1 million land-mines scattered in unmarked areas, that need to be located and neutralized.
  2. Whole towns and villages need to be re-built and their basic services restored.
  3. There are an estimated 1 million internally displaced persons, currently accommodated in camps, or staying with relatives. They desperately need shelter and simple equipment to till the soil.
  4. Many schools have been destroyed or damaged in conflict-affected areas, while schools in other parts of the country have suffered severely from a chronic lack of funds. Sri Lanka is proud of its achievements in education, and its high literacy rates. Access to good schools has been of enormous significance to our people. But unless urgent action is taken to restore the quality of our schools, we shall risk squandering our achievements in this field, and having to deal with a "lost generation" of inadequately educated youth.
  5. One of the greatest challenges that we must face is getting people back to work throughout the island. In addition, it has been our experience that whenever people have remained in refugee camps for long periods without hope and regular employment, they tend to become inured to a culture of dependency. But, with very little assistance they can be encouraged to resume their livelihoods as fishermen, farmers, and small traders. The social returns on such small investments will be very large, and the rehabilitation of these sections of our population will be essential if we are to achieve a lasting peace.
"Regaining Sri Lanka": a programme to stimulate economic growth and eliminate poverty A large percentage of our people still live below the poverty line, and the Government of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is committed to making a determined effort to deal effectively with the problem. Looking back over the 50 years since Sri Lanka re-gained its independence, we can see the strong commitment of successive governments to human development and welfare policies. Large investments in social development have been reflected in Sri Lanka's extraordinarily high placement from year to year in the United Nations Human Development Indices. But over the same period, we did less well in maintaining an appropriate balance between social sector expenditures and investment in creating an environment conducive to economic growth. The result has been an imbalance between the aspirations of the people on the one hand, and on the other, a lack of opportunities for their realization. That imbalance has, in turn, resulted in dramatic and destructive socio-political consequences, especially among the youth. Sri Lanka, it must be said, already possesses the human capital necessary to generate and sustain economic growth; in this, our situation may resemble more that of post-War Europe or Japan rather than that of some other developing countries. The Government's economic programme, called "Regaining Sri Lanka" is designed to redress this imbalance between aspirations and opportunities. We recognize that efforts to alleviate poverty cannot succeed without economic growth, and the programme establishes priorities designed to move the economy to a higher growth path. We also recognize that we cannot be dependent on foreign aid indefinitely. We need to stand on our own feet. "Regaining Sri Lanka" seeks to achieve this. I would like you to note that the "Regaining Sri Lanka" programme was developed with extensive participation by persons from a wide range of backgrounds, and is being implemented by Steering Committees that are essentially public/private sector partnerships. This endeavor has earned the strong support and endorsement of the international community. The Tokyo appeal for timely support In making an appeal to our friends for timely support for our efforts at reconstruction and development, we ask that you take into account the special difficulties that confront us on the way to making peace a reality: It is not feasible for us to deal with reconstruction of war-ravaged areas in isolation from the development of the rest of the country which has also suffered economic and social damage as a result of the war; nor would we succeed in our efforts if assistance were to be delayed pending conclusion of a peace agreement. The situation we face demands first that we undertake reconstruction and development activity right away in the south as well as the north on some equitable basis, looking at urgent development needs over the country as a whole; and second that we balance immediate needs against medium term investment needed for economic growth. We are convinced that unless we can significantly increase economic growth and demonstrate the prospect of a better future for all, it will not be possible to make headway in the building of a lasting peace and a united nation. Hence, the Tokyo Donor Conference is an event of critical importance to the success of our endeavours. There we shall want to focus on reconstruction and development of the entire country. Immediate humanitarian assistance is urgently needed for undertaking the tasks I outlined earlier, such as de-mining, reconstruction of towns and villages, and assistance to internally displaced persons, including promoting their resumption of productive work. But of equal and parallel importance is the need to make substantial progress on the "Regaining Sri Lanka" programme that represents the Government's overall economic strategy for poverty alleviation and forms the basis for the financing we receive from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, The Asian Development Bank, other financial agencies and bilateral donors. Elements of that programme include: (1) infrastructure development such as the building or repair of roads and the augmentation of power generation; (2) making Sri Lanka into a transport, logistic and financial hub for the region as well as the world; (3) the establishment of a strong information and communications technology sector that would facilitate the flow of information and contribute to re-integrating the country; (4) improving the delivery of all types of education, especially tertiary education, to our people, and making them more responsive to their needs; (5) strengthening our health care delivery systems - upon which the vast majority of our people depend; (6) improving the productivity of our agriculture, fisheries and small businesses so as to enhance the quality of the lives of our people; (7) preservation of our environment, even as we seek success in increasing economic growth; (8) the promotion of tourism, including eco-tourism and other non-traditional forms of tourism; (9) I mention finally one of the most complex and politically sensitive of the elements in the Prime Minister's programme, namely, reform of the public sector. The disproportionate size of Sri Lanka's public sector - greater by far than any in the Asian region - is a constraint that severely limits economic growth. Conclusion At the time we regained independence 50 years ago, our country was among the most economically advanced in Asia. Since then, political and ideological dialectics have deflected us from the task of building a prosperous, unified nation. This has weakened our economy and left us with the legacy of fratricidal conflict. With the leadership of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, and the goodwill from our friends in the international community, we now have the chance to draw back from the brink. At last our political leadership and our people are now united in the common cause of harmony and development. Perhaps we may even offer a pattern for others on how the genius of a people can rise again out of the devastation and alienating bitterness of conflict, to regain their place as a strong and vibrant nation, sustained and enriched by the talents of all its peoples. At the Tokyo Donor Conference, we expect to demonstrate in greater detail our single-minded allegiance to that cause. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now, or perhaps never!
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Thursday, the U.S. Government had great confidence in the Peace Process as well as the Economic Reform Programme in Sri Lanka and re-iterated the U.S. Government’s commitment to continue to support Sri Lanka in both these endeavors. Mr. Armitage made this observation when he met visiting Sri Lankan Minister for Economic Reform, Science and Technology Milinda Moragoda at the State Department on April 10th, 2003. Minister Moragoda briefed Mr. Armitage on the progress made during the peace talks. They also focused on the ‘Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka’ to be hosted by the Government of Japan, in June this year and the pre-Tokyo session that will be co- chaired by Minister Moragoda and Deputy Secretary Armitage at the State Department on Monday April 14th. The Minister expressed the appreciation of the Government of Sri Lanka for the continued support that has been extended to Sri Lanka by the U.S. Government. Deputy Secretary Armitage said the international community’s attention does not need to be diverted away from the Sri Lanka Peace Process and Reconstruction and Development efforts in the country on account of the conflict in Iraq. He noted that as the U.S. Government embarked on the task of re-building Iraq, the experience of countries like Sri Lanka that had already started making that transition after more than 20 years of prolonged conflict, would be invaluable. At a meeting with the Managing Director of the IMF Horst Kohler, Minister Moragoda was assured that a proposal to allocate a sum of US $ 560 Million over the next three years under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) would be taken up at its Board Meeting on April 18th . Mr. Kohler said given the progress made in the peace process and economic reform programme, he was hopeful that Sri Lanka would be able to secure the totality of this assistance, which is a rare feat. At a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Zoellick, the ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ programme initiated by the Prime Minister was discussed at this meeting. Ambassador Zoellick assured the Minister the support of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in helping Sri Lanka achieve the programme’s goals. They also expressed satisfaction with respect to the progress that had been made since the signing of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between Sri Lanka and the U.S. last year. The Minister also met Republican Congressman from Illinois, Jerry Weller, at his office at the U.S. Congress. Mr. Weller who assumed Co-Chairmanship of the ‘Sri Lanka Caucus’ in the U.S. Congress recently, expressed his intension of co-leading a Congressional delegation to Sri Lanka shortly in order to observe first hand the important strides Sri Lanka was making in restoring peace and ensuring economic progress and to help further the growing bi-lateral trade and investment relationship between the two countries. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the U.S. Devinda R. Subasinghe was associated with the Minister in all meetings. Governor of the Central Bank A.S.Jayewardene, Secretary, Ministry of Finance Charitha Ratwatte and Alternative Executive Director/ IMF Mr. R.A.Jayatissa were associated in the meeting with the Managing Director of the IMF, while Minister (Commercial) of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington Saman Udagedara was associated in the meetings with the U.S. Trade Representative and Congressman Jerry Weller. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 10 April 2003
A Meeting that seeks to garner wide international political and economic support towards the Sri Lanka Peace Process will be hosted on April 14th by the U.S. Government, which has actively supported the international effort led by Norway, to facilitate the ongoing Peace Process. The meeting which will be held at the State Department in Washington D.C, will be co-chaired by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Sri Lanka's Minister for Economic Reform, Science and Technology Milinda Moragoda. A precursor to the 'Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka' to be hosted by the Government of Japan, in June this year, the Washington meting will discuss the need for development and reconstruction assistance and how that can help consolidate the ceasefire and reinforce the peace process in Sri Lanka. Following opening remarks by Deputy Secretary Armitage, the program will include an update on the Sri Lanka peace negotiations that will be provided by Minister Moragoda and Norwegian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Vidar Helgesen, a Macro-Economic assessment of Sri Lanka by the IMF Deputy Managing Director S. Sugisaki and a summary of Sri Lanka's development needs by the World Bank and USAID. This will be followed by a presentation by Japanese Special Representative on Sri Lanka Yasushi Akashi, which will look ahead to the Tokyo Conference. Finance Ministers, Economic Development Ministers, Ambassadors and International Organization Officials are expected to attend this meeting. Representatives of the Governments of Germany, India, Japan, Norway and UK are among the countries that have already confirmed their participation. This will be the first occasion that the Government of India will be participating in a meeting concerning the current Sri Lanka peace process. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 07 April 2003
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Rukman Senanayake held an intensive round of meetings in Washington DC on 31 March and 1 April, seeking to win closer engagement by US Government agencies, multilateral organizations and key international non-government organizations with the nature conservation establishment in Sri Lanka. The Minister met with Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator of the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and discussed the need for increased environmental safeguards in Sri Lanka. Ms Whitman, who is a former Governor of New Jersey and a close aide of President George W. Bush, agreed to extend significant support to Sri Lanka's environmental activities through existing US EPA and future US Governmental programs such as the Millennium Challenge Account, which will deliver significant bilateral development assistance to selected countries. The US is also expected to assist Sri Lanka to establish a carbon trading mechanism. Minister Senanayake also met with Mohamed El-Ashry, Chairman of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and discussed on-going GEF grants to Sri Lanka, which amount to US$ 9 million. Mr. El-Ashry agreed to a request by the Minister that a further series of small and medium-scale grants be offered to Sri Lankan nature-conservation NGOs and community organizations to strengthen conservation activities at the local level. The Minister also had detailed discussions with the leaderships of several key international NGOs including the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy. Conservation International has already called on Sri Lanka to develop a comprehensive biodiversity management plan, to be supported by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund established by GEF and Japan. The World Wildlife Fund expressed interest in programs related to elephants, turtles and whales. In a meeting with World Bank Vice-President Ian Johnson, the Minister emphasized the need for new projects to follow up on the Environmental Action Plan project and also the on-going Wildlife and Forestry-sector projects. Dr Johnson agreed with a proposal by the Minister that the need of the hour was for integrated multi-disciplinary projects that would address cross-sector, rather than purely environmental, projects. Accordingly, the Ministry will now develop a multi-sector project to encompass environment and natural resource issues across also the land and water sectors, in consultation with the relevant line ministries. Minister Senanayake also took time off to meet with Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, one of the most respected conservation biologists in the United States. In an hour-long meeting with the Minister, Lovejoy shared his 25-year experience in working on biodiversity conservation in the Amazon, which bears several similarities to the conditions in Sri Lanka, where rainforest conservation is a key concern. The Minister was accompanied by Mr. Rohan Pethiyagoda, Advisor to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the US Devinda R. Subasinghe and Dayani Mendis, Second Secretary, Embassy of Sri Lanka. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 02 April 2003
The CEO and Managing Director of Ansell, Harry Boon, told US Business Leaders on Tuesday, that with the expectation of an early settlement to the ethnic conflict, Sri Lanka would be a profitable place to invest. Speaking on the theme, “The experience of a US investor in Sri Lanka”, representing Ansell, one of the world’s leading producers of rubber gloves for medical and industrial hand protection, whose headquarters have been relocated from Australia to New Jersey, Mr. Boon said, his company that had commenced operations in Sri Lanka since the late 1980’s, had lost only three days’ production in this entire period. Ansell has investments of over 50 Million $ in Sri Lanka and provides direct employment to 1800 and indirect employment to over 5000 persons. Mr. Boon made this observation when he addressed an Investment Roundtable organized by the US Chamber of Commerce titled “ Sri Lanka- Gateway to South Asia”, held as an integral part of the Second Meeting of the Joint Council established under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), of which the formal meeting was held in Washington D.C. on March 25th, 2003. The Roundtable hosted by Willard A. Workman, Senior Vice President, International Affairs, of the US Chamber of Commerce and was attended by Business Leaders with current and prospective trade and investment connections with Sri Lanka. These included the Centennial Group, General Electric Co, Caterpillar Power Ventures, American International Group (AIG), Lockheed Martin, Ansell Limited, Limited Brands, Sara Lee Branded Apparel, Pillsbury Winthrop LLP, the US EXIM Bank, US government officials from the Department of Commerce and the US Trade Representative’s Office, and representatives of the US Chamber of Commerce. The Sri Lankan Business sector was represented by Malik Samarawickrama, Chairman, M&N Centre and Sunil Wijesinghe, Managing Director, Bartleet & Company Ltd. Addressing the Investment Roundtable, Deputy US Trade Representative Jon Huntsman emphasized that “the US had great confidence in Sri Lanka, and was taking its economic relations with the country very seriously”. He said this was reflected in the decision taken by the US Government in July 2002 to sign the only Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) the US had signed with a South Asian country, with Sri Lanka, during Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to Washington D.C. Sri Lanka is also one of a select number of Asian countries with which the US has signed such agreements. Noting that the TIFA had so far worked well, Ambassador Huntsman said “the two countries should work on both a problem solving track as well as an opportunity track, to derive the full benefits of the framework”. He also sought feedback from business leaders involved in Sri Lanka in order to strengthen the TIFA process aimed at increasing trade between the two countries and attracting US investment to Sri Lanka. Minister of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy, Investment Promotion & Constitutional Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris addressing the gathering, noted that when he had “addressed the US Chamber two years ago, the participants had been only one third of that present on this occasion,” and said “the increased interest by U.S. Business Leaders augers well for Sri Lanka.” The Minister said anyone visiting Sri Lanka today would be struck by “the mood of expectancy in the island”, as after two decades of conflict “ for 15 months the country had enjoyed the benefits of peace and stability and there was the feeling that there was light at the end of the tunnel”. Prof. Peiris said “the single factor that stood in the way of Sri Lanka deriving the full benefits from having led the way during the administration of President J.R. Jayewardene in South Asia as a liberalized economy since 1977, was now being rectified”. Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake in his address drew attention to “the improvement that had been manifest in the economic indicators of the country, since the ceasefire took effect in February 2002.” He said “Sri Lanka had since seen $240 million in investments, which was the highest in ten years.” The Minister added that those seeking to invest in Sri Lanka should be conscious that Sri Lanka today serves as a spring-board to a vast regional market in South Asia. The 18.5 million domestic market of Sri Lanka expanded into a 1.1 billion market, on account of the Free Trade Agreement that was operative between Sri Lanka and India, and was being negotiated between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The Minister appealed to US investors to help Sri Lanka fortify its on-going peace process by investing in the country. BOI Chairman Arjunna Mahendran made an impressive presentation titled “Profit in Paradise” that highlighted the comparative advantages an investor could expect when investing in Sri Lanka. He said the business sector had played a significant part in inducing the peace process, and that the current peace had a positive impact on the economic fundamentals of the country. Managing Director, South Asian Affairs of the US Chamber of Commerce Herbert J. Davis, who concluded the meeting, urged that the current initiative within the US-Sri Lanka TIFA be carried forward into establishing a U.S. - Sri Lanka Business Council. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 26 March 2003 Please click here for more information.
Deputy US Trade Representative Jon Huntsman said Tuesday that "the US had great confidence in Sri Lanka, and was taking its economic relations with the country very seriously". Ambassador Huntsman made this observations when he addressed an Investment Roundtable hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, on the theme " Sri Lanka- Gateway to South Asia", held as an integral part of the Second Meeting of the Joint Council established under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The Roundtable was attended by Business Leaders from over 30 companies with current and prospective trade and investment connections with Sri Lanka, officials of the US Government and of the US Chamber of Commerce. At the formal talks of the Joint Council held at the White House Conference Center in Washington D.C., Ambassador Huntsman who led the US delegation expressed satisfaction with the progress made so far under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the US and Sri Lanka. He noted that within a matter of eight months since its establishment, the Joint Council had met twice, which is testimony to the importance both parties attach to bi-lateral trade and economic relations. He said the US regards Sri Lanka as a country with vast potential for economic development in South Asia. He emphasized the need to generate greater understanding among the US business community of the considerable trade and investment expansion opportunities in Sri Lanka and stressed the importance of evolving confidence building and problem solving mechanisms under the Joint Council to facilitate this process. The TIFA agreement signed during Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to the White House in July, 2002, provides a framework to discuss bi-lateral and multi-lateral issues relating to Sri Lanka and the US. The Sri Lanka delegation to the talks were led by Minister of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy, Investment Promotion & Constitutional Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake. The Sri Lanka delegation included Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the US Devinda R. Subasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Harsha Wicramasinghe and Chairman, Board of Investment (BOI) Arjunna Mahendran, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to WTO, Geneva K.J.Weerasinghe, Chairman United National Party, Mr. Malik Samarawicrema, Minister (Commercial) Saman Udagedara and First Secretary (Economic) Siro Gopallawa of the Embassy of Sri Lanka. Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake, in his opening remarks stressed the urgent need to "commercialize peace" in Sri Lanka and said as the country moves towards finding a lasting solution to the ethnic conflict, that it was also focusing on confidence building mechanisms during this learning curve. The Minister said Sri Lanka needed to diversify the economy and the Prime Minister and the Government of Sri Lanka was focusing on this issue. He emphasized that Sri Lanka is committed to moving the TIFA to further expand bilateral trade and gain greater market access to the US. Prof. G.L. Peiris, who joined the delegation after having led the Sri Lanka Government delegation to the 6th session of the Sri Lanka Peace Talks with the LTTE in Hakone, Japan, briefed the meeting on the latest developments concerning the peace process. He noted that during the past fifteen months of the cease fire agreement, the country had enjoyed considerable achievement in the areas of tourism, foreign direct investment and re-integration & interaction of trade between the north & south of the island after almost two decades of conflict. He said prospects for permanent peace are greater than ever before. The two delegations agreed to explore the possibility of having trade missions visit their respective countries and to further strengthen enforcing and implementation while amending the law to incorporate new developments in these areas. They will also engage in further bilateral discussions at the officials level with respect to moving forward with the WTO's Doha Development Agenda. It was agreed to continue the TIFA process with a meeting in Colombo and a subsequent meeting in Washington D.C. during the course of this year, highlighting the importance and potential of the US-Sri Lanka trade and investment relationship. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 25 March 2003