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Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka, hosted a lecture on 8 December 2017, featuring Mrs. Grace Asirwatham, the State Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who spoke on “BIMSTEC at 20: Priorities for the Future.”
As Sri Lanka will chair BIMSTEC from 2018 for two years, Mrs. Asirwatham highlighted the opportunity for Sri Lanka to show regional leadership, in the areas of technology transfer, maritime security and economic development. She noted BIMSTEC’s potential to be an economically powerful trading bloc within the region, with its vast natural and human resources. She further emphasised Sri Lanka should provide leadership to finalise the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which would add value to other existing bilateral and regional agreements between BIMSTEC member states.
Mrs. Asirwatham’s keynote address was followed by an expert panel discussion featuring: Adm. Dr. Jayanath Colombage, former Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy; Mr. Shiran Fernando, Chief Economist at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Sumith Nakandala, former Secretary-General of BIMSTEC; and Dr. Dushni Weerakoon, Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka.
The discussion was moderated by Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Chair of the Global Economy Programme at LKI.
The high-profile event drew a diverse group of participants, including representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, policymakers, think tanks, media, representatives from the private sector and civil society, and students. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions, and engage in a broader discussion of the future prospects of BIMSTEC.
Watch the lecture
Resources from the lecture
- Read the key Takeaways from the lecture here.
Photos: Fluke, by Ruvin de Silva