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With support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Asia New Zealand Foundation recently hosted Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Executive Director of Lakshman Kadirgarmar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI), for a visit in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as part of an initiative to build closer relations between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. The visit included a series of exchanges with officials, academics, civic, community and business leaders, and media interactions.
During his visit to Christchurch, Dr. Wignaraja presented at a seminar for staff and students at the University of Canterbury’s School of Language, Social and Political Sciences, and the New Zealand South Asia Centre, where he spoke on the pros and cons of regional integration in Asia and beyond. Dr. Wignaraja demonstrated how Indian Ocean cooperation is helping foster a new wave of regionalism between South Asia and East Asia, through to Africa and the Pacific. He also assessed how South-South regional initiatives aligned with grand mega-regional schemes like China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy, and Japan’s Partnership for Quality of Infrastructure. He noted that small states, such as Sri Lanka and New Zealand, can play an important role as honest brokers in the multilateral rules-based order in an uncertain global economy.
In Auckland and Wellington, Dr. Wignaraja met with senior academics and officials, and presented his assessment of the changing regional order in Asia and Sri Lanka’s role as an emerging trading hub in the Indian Ocean. He highlighted the country’s recent emergence as an upper-middle-income economy and its next key economic transition towards high-income status. He also discussed how Asian countries could work together to mitigate security threats, manage debt concerns, stimulate growth, and tackle climate change, while seeking to reduce trade barriers and strengthening institutions.
LKI is a think tank that analyses Sri Lanka’s international relations and strategic interests, to provide insights and recommendations that advance justice, peace, prosperity, and sustainability. The Institute reflects the vision of the late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar by promoting the country’s intellectual profile in foreign policy research and engagement. For more details visit www.lki.lk.