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The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) hosted a 30-member delegation from the National Defence College of Bangladesh, for a LKI Foreign Policy Round Table on 20 September 2018. The delegation was headed by Rear Admiral M. Anwarul Islam and comprised senior officials from the Bangladesh military.
LKI’s Adam Collins and Barana Waidyatilake made two presentations on the ‘The Economic Aspects of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy’ and ‘Sri Lanka’s Regional Security Strategy,’ respectively.
Mr. Collins’s presentation provided a brief historical context regarding Sri Lanka’s economic and regional grouping ties. He stated that the government’s foreign policy strategy aimed to improve the nation’s trade as a share of GDP by engaging in more bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). Speaking of the ‘Vision 2025’ strategy which formalises the government’s target of making Sri Lanka an export-oriented hub in the Indian Ocean, he noted that Sri Lanka needs to diversify exports to achieve economic growth. Mr. Collins also highlighted the government’s strategy to in enter bilateral trade agreement negotiations with Thailand and China.
Mr. Waidyatilake’s presentation focused on Sri Lanka’s regional security strategy. He emphasised the need for Sri Lanka to adopt a regional rules-based order approach to ensure maritime security of the Indian Ocean. Mr. Waidyatilake highlighted that Sri Lanka’s active involvement in regional groupings such as IORA and BIMSTEC demonstrates the country’s increased focus on multilateral security engagement.
The subsequent discussion was moderated by Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, LKI’s Executive Director and Chair of the Global Economy Programme. The discussion focused on Sri Lanka’s timeline for achieving its export-oriented goals, developing necessary legal framework to curb maritime crime, and the strategic objectives behind the Bangladesh Navy’s modernisation and expansion efforts.
Image credit : Sri Lankan Navy/Asanka Ekanayaka