France and Sri Lanka underscore the need to strengthen bilateral relations

France and Sri Lanka underscore the need to strengthen bilateral relations

24 October 2021 11:57 am

France and Sri Lanka welcomed the multifaceted cooperation and friendship existing between the two countries and underscored the necessity to further strengthen bilateral relations at a meeting between t he Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka Eric Lavertu and Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris at the Foreign Ministry.

During the meeting,they  focused on bilateral political relations; inter-parliamentary cooperation; expansion of bilateral trade, investment and tourism; education; as well as issues of mutual interest in regional and multilateral fora.

The resumption of direct flights between Colombo and Paris which would lead to greater connectivity and further consolidate business and tourism ties was welcomed.

France intends to increase its economic engagement with Sri Lanka as the existing bilateral trade is in Sri Lanka’s favour.

Therefore, France wants to improve the trade deficit, and one mechanism they have in mind is to further invest through French companies such as Michelin and Decathlon who are already in Sri Lanka, and expand their businesses in the island.

 French diplomatic sources indicated that there are additional avenues for bilateral business interactions such as by way of contributing towards high-quality projects in Sri Lanka.

These projects, when implemented would be beneficial for Sri Lanka’s apparel industry as French companies such as Decathlon intend on producing their merchandise through Sri Lankan companies.

Hence, a foremost priority for bilateral relations is for France to be more visible in Sri Lanka. This is towards developing a bilateral roadmap to work with Sri Lanka.

According to French diplomatic sources, the French authorities have also taken into consideration the developments in the Indo-Pacific region, and factored in their status as a littoral state of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

This is inevitable for France, due to the power rivalry in the Indo-Pacific with many countries showcasing their interest in working with Sri Lanka.

Hence, from the French perspective, they may have felt as if they were left behind or as if they were late to the game, as many countries had already lined up, indicating their interest in working with Sri Lanka.

The French presence in the Reunion Islands in the IOR makes France and Sri Lanka neighbours, therefore it is important to conceptualise as to how bilateral relations can be improved taking into consideration their neighbourhood status.

This is a crucial factor underpinning the relations, as the neighbourhood status would greatly improve the ability for the two Indian Ocean states to work together.