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Despite continued abuses, Sri Lanka pursues trade with Canada

Sri Lanka has been aiming to boost its trade with Canada, with a delegation meeting with businessmen in Toronto earlier this week, despite Canada’s continued concern regarding Sri Lanka’s war-time abuses committed against the Tamil people.

The ten-member delegation visited the country after a gap of almost three years, attempting to enhance trade links between the two. The visit though comes at a time when Canada is lobbying for Sri Lanka to be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian law.

See report by Inter Press Service here.

Canada had attempted to raise the issue of Sri Lanka’s human rights at this year’s Commonwealth meeting in Perth, but this was blocked by the Sri Lankans.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Gamini Peiris told the press that he felt Canada’s move “was entirely inappropriate."

It comes as Sri Lanka grows increasingly frustrated by moves by the international community to address allegations of war crimes, being led by Canada.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper already walked out during Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s speech at the Commonwealth and vowed to boycott the next Commonwealth meeting, due to be held in Sri Lanka, unless progress is seen on human rights.

High Commissioner Chitranganee Wagiswara told Canadian reporters,

"We are not happy about the statements being made.”

Yet, the Sri Lankans have been reluctant to cut off links with the Canadians.

Buddhadasa Herath, the Sri Lankan deputy consul general and trade commissioner based in Toronto, said,

"We have to work hard to promote trade between Canada and Sri Lanka."

In 2010, Sri Lankan exports to Canada totalled 124 million dollars, while Canadian exports to the country averaged 339 million dollars, tipping the balance heavily in Canada’s favour.