Sri Lanka's foreign minister, Ravi Karunanyake warned this week the country should not be complacent that its own economy would reap the rewards of improving economies of other countries in the region.
"Sri Lanka has so far been largely reactive to the interest of its neighbours and potential partners. We cannot afford to remain complacent, believing that we will automatically reap the economic rewards of a global shift from West to East. We will not," he told a seminar in Colombo on Wednesday.
"It is worth noting that, although China is a large investor in Sri Lanka, foreign direct investment from China in other regional economies like Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia is much higher than to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka must, therefore, develop a proactive foreign policy centred on commercial diplomacy, to maximize the benefits of growing economic power in our region,” he was quoted by the Colombo Gazette as saying.
"Just as India has done with its own diaspora, Sri Lanka must reach out to overseas Sri Lankans as they have networks and the know-how that Sri Lanka does not even appreciate, let alone leverage," he reportedly added.
In a report published last week, the World Bank warned that Sri Lanka’s reform progress was “slower than expected."
Stressing that “Sri Lanka faces a number of challenges that increasingly put its future economic growth and stability at risk”, the report said "adopting a piece-meal solution to address the challenges is unlikely to be successful."
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