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The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) hosted an eight-member delegation from the Defence Services Command and Staff College, Bangladesh, for a round table discussion on 11 July 2018. The delegation was headed by Brigadier General S. M. Mahbub-Ul-Alam and comprised senior officials from the Bangladesh military.
LKI’s Adam Collins and Malinda Meegoda made two presentations on ‘The Economic Aspects of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy’ and ‘Non-Traditional Security Threats in South Asia,’ respectively.
Mr. Collins offered a brief history of Sri Lanka’s global economic ties, before outlining the government’s current strategy aimed at boosting trade and investment links with the Indian Ocean region. This is demonstrated by the government’s current pursuit of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with a number of countries in the region, including Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Mr. Collins acknowledged that the brewing trade war between the US and China could threaten the potential benefits of this strategy. But he also emphasised that Sri Lanka’s strategic location between India, one of the largest economies in the world, and the prosperous markets of Southeast Asia provide it with a unique opportunity to boost trade and foreign investment.
Mr. Meegoda’s presentation focused on non-traditional security threats in the South Asian region. He emphasised the threats and implications of climate change, especially on smaller states and low-lying islands. He considered the role of the navy in tackling climate-related issues, and recommended a holistic strategy that combines diplomacy, development and defence. Mr. Meegoda highlighted the potential of SAARC countries to develop new policies to fight climate change, as well as the need for a military stance in relation to mission effectiveness and battlespace awareness. Furthermore, he noted the need for adequate infrastructure to build climate-resilient communities in Sri Lanka.
The subsequent discussion moderated by LKI’s Executive Director, Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne, focused on the ineffectiveness of the South Asian Free Trade Area, development of Sri Lanka-Bangladesh trade relations, and the Bangladesh navy’s efforts to combat climate change issues.
Image Credit: Fluke/Ruvin