WHITE 3D EMBOSSES CAPITAL LETTERS

Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, Minister Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Gamini Jayawickrma Perera, Minister of Irrigation and Water Management and Hon. Keheliya Rambukawella, Minister of Science and Technology met Hon. Madam Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture, US Department of Commerce and had discussions on wide ranging bilateral issues during the Conference. Minister Karunanyake expressed his grateful thanks to the Agriculture Secretary for inviting him and his colleagues to attend the Ministerial Conference on Agriculture Science and Technology, which he found very useful in obtaining information on Agricultural Science and Technology, critical for raising sustainable agricultural productivity in developing countries such as Sri Lanka. Hon. Minister briefed Agricultural Secretary on bilateral trade and economic relations between the US and Sri Lanka, in particular on the progress made so far with regard to the TIFA process and said that two Joint Council Meetings had been held within a period of eight months since signing of the TIFA Agreement in July 2002. These meetings had been resulted in confidence building and resolving bilateral trade issues between the countries. The Hon. Minister informed the Secretary that Sri Lanka has removed import restrictions on GM food for which US agricultural Secretary expressed her satisfaction. He also informed Agriculture Secretary that the Joint Council had discussed possible cooperation between the US and Sri Lanka, particularly in Agriculture negotiations in order to work towards successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda. The Hon Minister said that Sri Lanka's ultimate objective is to conclude a Free Trade Agreement with the US for promotion of two way trade between the two countries. Hon. Minister informed the Agriculture Secretary that Sri Lanka had been excluded for the first time in 2003, from the countries eligible for obtaining concessionary loan under the PL-480 title 1 program for purchasing wheat in fiscal year 2003. He emphasized the importance of importing wheat under the PL-480 program and requested USDA to continue this program for Sri Lanka. He also expressed Sri Lanka's interest in obtaining dried non-fat milk powder under the PL-416-B programme. Agriculture Secretary agreed to look into possibility of providing continuous allocation of PL-480 title 1 programme to Sri Lanka. Pointing out that the US has a surplus of non-fat milk powder said that the US will be able to provide them under the Food for Progress program. Hon. Minister also expressing Sri Lanka's desire to expand bilateral trade between the two countries said that Sri Lanka is keen to explore the possibility of importing agricultural products such as chicken from the US. Agriculture Secretary welcomed Sri Lanka's interest in importing agricultural commodities from the US to Sri Lanka on commercial basis. Hon. Gamini Jayawickrma Perera, Minister of Irrigation and Water Management and Hon. Keheliya Rambukawella, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology also participated at the discussions. Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 25 June 2003