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September 28, 2016    Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Commander of the Navy meets US military officials at the Pentagon. Image Credit - icholakov01 / depositphotos

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Sri Lanka to receive foreign support for debt relief

The Ambassadors of the US, Germany, France, and the High Commissioner of the UK have pledged the support of their countries to minimising Sri Lanka’s current debt. The message of support was conveyed during a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Ravi Karunanayake, on 27 September.

Sri Lanka’s debt is approximately LKR 8,500 billion (2015). Once the country achieves middle income status, it will no longer be able to obtain low-interest loans. Diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka have been requested to recommend Sri Lanka to the World Bank for low-interest loans.

Sri Lanka and India discuss ETCA

The visiting Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, has reiterated India’s commitment to the Economic and Technology Cooperative Agreement (ETCA), and acknowledged that the concerns of Sri Lankan businesses under the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement need to be addressed before any new agreements are finalised.

The Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama, expressed the government’s dedication to finalising the ECTA, adding that its current deadline may be extended from December 2016 to March 2017. Minister Sitharaman also discussed India’s interest in investing USD 2-3 billion in Sri Lanka over the next 2-4 years.

Navy Commander meets US officials

The Commander of the Navy, Ravindra Wijegunaratne, has met with the Deputy Director for Politico-Military Affairs for Asia, the Director of the US Marines Strategy and Plans Division, and the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, at the Pentagon on 26 September. Discussions focused on plans to further US-Sri Lankan navy collaboration, as well as on the formation of a Sri Lankan marine battalion.

Commander Wijegunaratne also met with officials at the US Coast Guard headquarters and the US State Department. These included the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal.


Countries withdraw from the SAARC Summit

India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Bhutan have announced their withdrawal from the 19th SAARC Summit, scheduled to be held in November in Islamabad, Pakistan. Representative of the various governments claimed that the environment was not conducive to hold successful discussions.

The decision follows India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism, and has led to the collapse of the summit, which cannot take place unless all member states are present.

Iran rejects Saudi Arabia’s oil output cap

Iran has rejected Saudi Arabia’s proposal to ease oil supply in global markets to reverse the decrease in oil prices. Saudi Arabia requested Iran to limit its supply of oil in exchange for Saudi Arabia doing the same. Iran stated that the country wants to produce 13% of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC’s) oil before agreeing to limit production.

The next formal OPEC meeting is expected to be held on 30 November in Vienna, Austria. The Iranian Oil Minister, Bijan Zanganeh, stated that an agreement could be finalised at that meeting.

WTO revises 2016 world trade growth

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has revised the forecast global trade growth rate from 2.8% to 1.7%. This revision reflects the economic slowdown of countries such as China and Brazil, and the decrease in US demand for imports. For the first time in 15 years international commerce has lagged the growth of the world economy.

The WTO listed the lack of further trade liberalisation and ‘creeping protectionism’ as factors contributing to the slowdown in global trade.

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