Singapore, Sri Lanka affirm diplomatic ties with webinar on agri-businesses and digitalisation

Total bilateral trade in 2019 was valued at US$883 million (S$1.21 billion). ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Covid-19 pandemic will create opportunities for Singapore and Sri Lanka to deepen trade ties with agri-business and digitalisation singled out for particular focus during a webinar on Monday (July 27).

Addressing the webinar, Singapore's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr S. Chandra Das, spoke of new opportunities despite the fact that Covid-19 has been "a very tiring period both (for) diplomatic and business cooperation".

"New ideas will continue to multiply as we move to reopen our economies and societies. Covid-19 (will) spur us to re-imagine the possibilities and grab hold of new opportunities," he said.

Mr Chandra Das added: "Singapore and Sri Lanka have a longstanding trade relationship, particularly (in) the area of food."

"Our import of Sri Lankan produce has grown, both in quantity and variety, from cayenne spices to crabs," he said.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Singapore Sashikala Premawardhane said that food security was among the areas in which the two countries could deepen cooperation.

"We've done very well on the investment side between 2015 and 2019," she said, pointing out that Singapore was Sri Lanka's fifth largest investor.

About 100 Singaporean businesses were operating in Sri Lanka, she added.

"We see huge opportunities for the two countries to... augment ties, particularly in the economic, trade and investment fields," she said.

Covid-19 has highlighted the importance for countries to keep in touch at a time when borders remained closed and supply chains were disrupted to ensure food security issues did not hinder economic activities, she said.

Singapore produces less than 10 per cent of its nutritional needs locally.

The webinar on business opportunities, particularly in areas such as digitalisation and agri-business, was held on the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Mr Chandra Das said: "The friendly relations between our two countries enjoyed today are founded on historical events, even familial ties, established long before our independence."

A statement from the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore noted that ties between the two countries go back at least to the 1800s, given that both share the same ancient maritime trade routes.

Topics covered during the webinar included digitalisation of businesses, food supply resilience in Singapore and food security.

Total bilateral trade last year was valued at US$883 million (S$1.21 billion) with Sri Lankan exports valued at US$115 million, according to the Sri Lanka High Commission.

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