President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Philippines Chanaka Harsha Talpahewa agreed on Tuesday to further strengthen the warm and friendly Philippine-Sri Lanka relations and take it to the next level to ensure mutual benefit.

During the presentation of Talpahewa’s credentials, President Marcos said that he is looking forward to continuing to develop the bilateral ties between the Philippines and Sri Lanka as he vowed to work on enhancing the economies of both countries. 

“With the continuing hope that the relationship between our two countries, which has been an ongoing and long-standing relationship for [62] years is something that we will continue to develop and continue to make stronger,” President Marcos said. 

“Both our countries are looking to the future to develop the economies of our countries and to make a better life for our people. And I believe that we can find ways to work together to the mutual benefit of both our countries,” he added. 

The President expressed gladness in welcoming Talpahewa, as he hopes to continue the development of Philippine-Sri Lanka relations.

For his part, Talpahewa said he is looking to further consolidate and strengthen the warm and friendly bilateral ties between the Philippines and Sri Lanka as he vowed “to take it to the next level.” 

“During my tenure of office, I look forward to working towards further consolidating and strengthening the warm and friendly relations between our two countries and taking it to the next level,” Talpahewa said. 

The Philippines and Sri Lanka established their formal diplomatic relations on January 11, 1961. 

Last year, Sri Lanka ranked as the Philippines’ 75th trading partner, with total trade reaching US$29.29 million. Exports were valued at US$20.49 million, while imports were valued at US$8.80 million. 

Among the Philippines’ top exports to Sri Lanka include cereal preparations, flour, starch or milk, and pastry cooks’ products; miscellaneous chemical products; animal or vegetable fats and oils and their cleavage products, prepared edible fats, animal or vegetable waxes; organic chemicals; paper and paperboard, and articles of paper pulp, paper, or paperboard; 

It also ships sugars and sugar confectionery; plastics and articles; optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments and apparatus, and parts and accessories. 

The Philippines’ top imports, on the other hand, include rubber and articles; coffee, tea, maté and spices; articles of apparel and clothing accessories; nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, mechanical appliances, and parts; residues and waste from the food industries and prepared animal fodder; preparations of vegetables, fruits, nuts, or other parts of plants; ceramic products; fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. 

There are 677 Filipinos in Sri Lanka as of 2022, working as craft and related trade professionals, managers, plant and machine operators and assemblers, professionals, services and sales workers, skilled agricultural forestry and fishery workers, and technicians and associate professionals, among others. 

OFW remittances from January to April 2023 amounted to US$235,000. In 2022, remittances reached US$760,000. 

The Philippines has 15 bilateral agreements with Sri Lanka in the fields of consular / visa services, political consultations, air services, educational and cultural matters, trade, defense, higher education, agriculture and research, and tourism, among others. 

In terms of tourism, the country recorded 1,706 tourist arrivals from Sri Lanka from January to August this year. In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 6,412 Sri Lankan tourists visited the country. | PND

Photo Courtesy by PCO