Embassy of the United States of America



Tel: +94 (1) 421272
Fax: +94 (1) 449070
Email: tisserav@state.gov

News release no. 20030702






Colombo, July 2, 2003

We are delighted to be here today. We have had a wonderful visit to Sri Lanka, and are grateful to all of our hosts for their kindness since we arrived on Sunday. We especially want to thank the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry for their invitation and for the excellent schedule of events they arranged.

During our short visit, we have met with government and private sector leaders, and have seen something of your government, industry, culture and society. It has been a fascinating glimpse of a land full of strength, promise and beauty. We saw a lot of potential and I expect that you will see more American visitors here to explore that potential, especially the possibilities for increased trade and investment.

We were lucky to come at such a hopeful time. Though the peace process has had its difficulties, there has been no fighting in almost 20 months. The economy is showing signs of recovery. All major sectors are expected to expand, building on strong GDP growth of 4% last year. The recent record-breaking days on the Colombo Stock Market reflect the confidence investors have in the future. We hope that the government will continue on its course of reform to open the economy and allow the private sector to flourish.

As members of the US Congress, we are interested in the political, economic and social choices that the Sri Lankan government is making to lead its people into a peaceful, secure and prosperous future. The United States and Sri Lanka have closer bonds now than any time in the recent past and we expect our bilateral cooperation to grow. We look to strengthen those connections, and expand them. We are your biggest trading partner, but we want to be more active here, with more American products, services and investments.

Sri Lanka is utilizing its strategic location to become a hub. We hope the hub of Sri Lanka will help bind the region together, not only in trade and transport but in providing an example of peaceful resolution of conflict, and of a leading free market trading system.

Thank you.