Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the US has said that ties between the two countries are improving.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya said that the embassy has an “excellent working relationship” with the US State Department and that US investors are very positive about the country.
"I must emphasize the embassy has an excellent working relationship with the US State Department.
"Effective representations were made to the State Department by the embassy; the US Authorities lifted the adverse travel advisory on Sri Lanka. I must also stress that if not for the assistance of the State Department, the Embassy would not have been able to successfully convince the US authorities to remove Sri Lankan ports from the list of High Risk Ports as declared by the US Coast Guard.
"In today’s context, one of our major aims is to project Sri Lanka’s true picture in the sphere of economic development, reconciliation, rehabilitation and redevelopment.
"The US is Sri Lanka’s largest export market with an annual turnover of US $ 2.1 billion. In terms of Foreign Direct Investment and tourism as well, the US is becoming a very important partner for Sri Lanka. The US is the largest single export destination for Sri Lankan goods, with over 20 % of our exports. Our exports to the US demonstrated an impressive growth of 7.7 % up to October 2012. According to the latest trade statistics, our exports to the US up to October 2012 amounted to US $ 1.8 billion.
"The USA is among first 10 sources of origin of tourists to Sri Lanka. Compared to 2011, arrival of US tourists to Sri Lanka, 2012 is indeed very impressive. Up to November 2012, US tourist arrivals numbered 26.251. This shows a 25% increase compared to the same period in 2011. Our short term objective is to increase this number to 45,000 within the next three years while expecting, in the long term, arrivals of approximately 100,000 by 2017.
"With the dawn of peace, many opportunities emerged for international business in Sri Lanka. The Embassy harnessed this conducive climate to showcase real business opportunities in Sri Lanka amongst US corporate leaders and captains of Industry. That’s something that we pushed for in collaboration with the Office of the US Trade Representative and the US Department of Commerce. Collectively, we have sponsored and facilitated several investment conferences for US businesses interested in Sri Lanka. These highly productive networking sessions held both in Sri Lanka and in the US have generated much needed enthusiasm.
"Now we are starting to see the fruits of these endeavours, as some large American hotels, heavy equipment operators, energy companies and airplane manufacturers are keen to do business in Sri Lanka."