India seeks to help Sri Lanka in post-covid economic recovery
Assessing possible ways to help Sri Lanka in its post-covid-19 economic recovery and taking stock of the state of India’s development projects are two of the main issues on Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan’s agenda. Shringla who began his visit to the island nation on Sunday. .
This is Shringla’s first visit to Sri Lanka, considered a key neighbor of India, although relations have been rocked by irritants in recent months, with Sri Lanka seen as moving closer to its strategic rival. , China.
In the face of this, Shringla’s visit is seen as a signal of India’s willingness to reach out to Sri Lanka and restore ties. On Sunday, Shringla began her visit with a trip to the central district of Kandy. He then visited the eastern port district of Trincomalee and the northern city of Jaffna. The north and east of Sri Lanka are places where the country’s Tamil minority mainly lives. On Monday, he will return to Colombo to meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister Prof. GL Peiris and other key executives.
Given that Sri Lanka has been one of the countries whose economy has been hit hard due to the covid-19 pandemic, Shringla’s visit aims to get a first-hand assessment of the country’s needs and the how India could help, someone familiar with the subject mentioned.
“Sri Lanka’s economy contracted 3.6% in 2020, the worst growth performance on record, as is the case in many countries battling the pandemic,” a Bank report said. global in June 2021. “Rapid measures adopted by the government in the second quarter (of 2020) successfully contained the first wave of coronavirus (covid-19), but these measures particularly affected sectors such as tourism, construction and transport, while the collapse in global demand has impacted the textile industry. uncertainty has hampered investment, ”says the World Bank report.
Prior to the pandemic, Sri Lanka’s economy had been hit hard by the 2019 Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, “which also had significant effects on economic growth, especially tourism,” a report by the Asian Development Bank earlier this year, predicting that the “road to recovery will be difficult given the uncertainties in the global economic outlook and fiscal constraints Sri Lanka faces.”
During a visit to Sri Lanka in January, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and his counterpart held talks on cooperation to revive economic activity in areas such as energy, infrastructure and connectivity, besides pharmaceutical manufacturing and tourism. New Delhi had also sent vaccines to Sri Lanka, but with the second wave of the pandemic that hit India in April-May, New Delhi focused on national vaccine needs and Colombo turned to China for vaccine doses.
Ties have also been touched by Sri Lanka which reneged on a deal earlier this year to allow India and Japan to build and operate the East Container Terminal at Colombo Port – believed to have taken place. because of protests by Sri Lankan workers’ unions with unspoken Chinese Support. This month, the Indian group Adani signed a pact with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to build a brand new terminal next to the Chinese $ 500 million pier in the port of Colombo. Under the terms of the pact, Adani is to form a partnership with a local conglomerate, John Keells, and the Sri Lankan government-owned SLPA.
According to a statement from the Indian Foreign Ministry, Shringla’s visit “will contribute to long-standing multifaceted relations and strengthen the bilateral partnership between the two countries.”
Almost coinciding with Shringla’s visit, New Delhi announced that India and Sri Lanka would conduct a 12-day military exercise from Monday focused on strengthening counterterrorism cooperation. Dubbed “Mitra Shakti”, the exercise will take place from Monday at the combat training school in the district of Ampara in Sri Lanka, the Indian Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday.
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