Transform to economic diplomacy, says Sri Lanka Foreign Minister

We need to transform from international political diplomacy to economic diplomacy: Foreign Secretary Colombage
October, 27, 2020

Economic diplomacy is the use of the full spectrum economic tools of a state to achieve its national interests. The scope of economic diplomacy can encompass the all of the main international economic activities of a state including, but not limited to, policy decisions designed to influence exports, imports, investments, lending, aid, free trade agreements, etc.

Meanwhile, speaking to Indeewari Amuwatte on Ada Derana 24 current affairs program ‘@HydePark’ , Foreign Secretary Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage stated that although Sri Lanka has performed well in international political diplomacy, the country needs to revisit its economic diplomacy.

“Now we are in a transition. We have been very good in international political diplomacy. We have had our great diplomats working in multilateral fora, international fora. So, generally we have been very good in international political diplomacy and I would say we have been very weak in economic diplomacy. Therefore, we need a huge transformation from international political diplomacy to economic diplomacy. Economic diplomacy is something different. You really need to market your country, the products, the exports, the ability to get into the job market, getting scholarships, getting technology, getting foreign direct investments, from that country. So economic diplomacy is very different.”

“India is also part of that economic diplomacy because India is our neighbor with a huge population. Even with India this economic diplomacy is of utmost important. So what I wanted to say is, in this transformation from international political diplomacy to economic diplomacy, we have to redefine our rules, we have to redefine our criteria, we have to redefine our policy. So that is what we are doing,” he added.

Foreign Secretary Professor Colombage also expressed the following;

“Indian ocean in the 21st century is fast becoming the key ocean in the world. If you look back at the 19th and the 20th centuries it was the Atlantic ocean and the Pacific ocean, which played a crucial role in world affairs. But in the 21st century that has already shifted towards the Indian ocean. Therefore, Indian ocean is of critical importance to the world today and that is why everyone is focusing on the Indian ocean and Sri Lanka is in the center of the Indian ocean,” he said.

Further, Professor Colombage stated that there are five criteria of foreign policy that Sri Lanka should follow going on; remain neutral, stay away from the power game, maintain friendly relations with every nation, develop economic relations with all prospective countries, and be mindful of India’s strategic security concerns.

“If we cannot meet these five criteria in perfect balance, we will lose the game,” he said.

Colambage further said that Sri Lanka has lost, retarded progress, and had internal conflicts every time it moved away from a non-aligned policy.

He pointed out that Sri Lanka does not have the luxury of selecting a particular country against another particular country.

“It is a very difficult balancing act. But that is the only way,” he said.