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‘Sri Lanka is a country with great potential’



– Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Sang-Hwa

The ambassador and Deputy Minister of Public Diplomacy of the Republic of Korea Lee Sang-hwa paid an official visit to Sri Lanka from February 20 to the 22nd. Other officials of the delegation included Expert Economist Dr. Song Kyungjin, Director for the Regional Strategy Division Lee Jung ho, First Secretary Ms. Jung Su Young and Second Secretary Ms. Baek Su Jin.

On February 21, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea successfully hosted an expert seminar under the theme of ‘Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and Its Partnership with Sri Lanka’ at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea selected Sri Lanka as the first country to host the overseas seminar on its recently unveiled Indo-Pacific strategy. This meaningful event brought together more than 150 people including high-level officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of ROK and the Sri Lankan government. Among the key representatives of the stakeholders, the officials of the Ministry of Education, the National Institute of Education, academic members of the Global Korea Scholarship Alumni Association, KOICA Fellows in Sri Lanka and Korean language teachers were present to gain insights into the Indo-Pacific strategy of Korea. Especially, many young students from the Kelaniya University also attended the seminar to understand the vision of Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Among the high-level dignitaries present, the ambassador and Deputy Minister of Public Diplomacy of the Republic of Korea Lee Sang-hwa, Korean ambassador to Sri Lanka Santhush Woonjin Jeong, Secretary to the Ministry of Education Nihal Ranasinghe, Secretary of the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Somaratne Vidanapathirana, Director-General of the National Institute of Education Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne, Additional Secretary Educational Quality Development & Education Reforms H.U. Premathilake and Additional Secretary Cultural Promotion T.N. Hettiarachchi were noteworthy.

Delivering the opening remarks at the seminar on ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy and Its Partnership with Sri Lanka,’ the Deputy Minister Lee Sang-hwa stated that Korea has recently unveiled the Indo-Pacific Strategy which is Korea’s first comprehensive regional strategy, under the vision of a Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific. To realise this vision, the Korean government has formulated a policy and an implementation plan aligned with the Indo-Pacific strategy for each sub-region, including North Pacific, Southeast Asia & ASEAN, South Asia, Oceania, and the African Coast of the Indian Ocean. The principles of cooperation for the Indo-Pacific strategy are based on Inclusiveness, Trust, and Reciprocity. For this purpose, the Korean government would like to attempt to build a regional order based on norms and rules, strengthen non-proliferation and counter-terrorism efforts, engage in contributive diplomacy through tailored development cooperation, etc. Especially in the region of South Asia, ‘Sri Lanka is a country with great potential,’ the Deputy Minister stated. ‘Korea supports the endeavours of the Sri Lankan government and its people to emerge from the current challenges as a strong and resilient economy. In the framework of Indo-Pacific, the Korean government will pursue reliable and mutually beneficial economic partnerships with countries in South Asia through strengthened economic and development cooperation in such areas as trade, investment and development assistance. The government of Korea has increased the ODA budget by 14% this year and Sri Lanka is one of the key development assistance recipients.’

The seminar featured a presentation by the Director for the Regional Strategy Division Jungho LEE on the Indo-Pacific strategy of ROK and the substantial cooperation Korea hopes to share with Sri Lanka through increased economic and development cooperation. He emphasized that the “strategy focuses on maximizing effects of development cooperation in areas where our strengths and partners’ needs coincide.” The Director for the Regional Strategy Division further agreed on the need for tailored cooperation in the areas of trade, investment and development assistance and discussed the way forward to promote mutual understanding and exchanges under the Indo-Pacific Strategy of Korea.

Economic Expert Dr. Song Kyungjin provided a comprehensive outline of the economic development experience of Korea. In 1962, the GDP per capita of Korea was just USD 106.2. In 2022, the GDP per capita has increased to USD 34,997. While the major export items in 1962 were limited to a few materials, such as, iron ore, tungsten, raw silk and squid, it has now diversified and expanded to export items such as semiconductors, automobiles, petrochemicals and shipbuilding. The transformation of the Korean economy was due to the structural and financial sector reforms, such as, effective regulation and supervision of financial institutions. Dr. Song further explained that the economy of ROK experienced major setbacks such as the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-98. Significant structural and financial reforms such as the Financial Supervisory Service, the restructuring of large banks, capital account liberalization and the free-floating exchange system led to the recovery of the economy. As an outcome of such painful reforms, the Korean economy was better prepared to weather the 2008 Global Financial Crisis with strong economic fundamentals. She reiterated that the lessons from the two crises such as market-based exchange rate, public sector reform, fiscal consolidation, policy sequencing, political leadership and commitment can be used as references in the development of Sri Lanka. She emphasised that Korea is a bridge between developed and developing countries, and Korea hopes to strengthen more collaborations with Sri Lanka. Especially human resources development and management, education and training, skills development, infrastructure development and agricultural productivity, are prioritised as key areas of cooperation between Korea and Sri Lanka.

Korean ODA representatives, the Country Director of KOTRA Son Joo Hong and the Country Director of KOICA Ms. Kim Myung Jin also participated in the expert seminar to share first-hand experiences in the development of Sri Lanka.

The event also featured a traditional Kandyan dance performance and a dynamic Taekwondo performance that captured the attention of the audience. The seminar was conducive to building an informative dialogue on the Indo-pacific strategy of the Republic of Korea and the future-oriented cooperation between Korea and Sri Lanka. (Embassy of the Republic of Korea)

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Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia pledges output cuts – Opec+




(picture BBC)

Oil-producing countries have agreed to continued cuts in production in a bid to shore up flagging prices.

Saudi Arabia said it would make cuts of a million barrels per day (bpd) in July and Opec+ said targets would drop by a further 1.4 million bpd from 2024.

Opec+ accounts for around 40% of the world’s crude oil and its decisions can have a major impact on oil prices.

In Asia trade on Monday, Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4% before settling at around $77 a barrel.

The seven hour-long meeting on Sunday of the oil-rich nations, led by Russia, came against a backdrop of falling energy prices.

Total production cuts, which Opec+ has undertaken since October 2022, reached 3.66 million bpd, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Opec+, a formulation which refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, had already agreed to cut production by two million bpd, about 2% of global demand.


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Manpower services agency wins accolades for its contribution to foreign employment sector



Siraj Cafoor, Managing Director of Siraj Manpower Services receives the award

Its MD says. ‘go abroad only if you can work hard’

Siraj Manpower Services, one of Sri Lanka’s leading foreign employment agencies, was honoured with the Three-Star Award at the ‘Golden Awards’ 2023, organised by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE). This award ceremony was organised to honour foreign employment agencies that have made a significant contribution to the development of the foreign employment sector, which is a major source of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Siraj Cafoor, Managing Director of Siraj Manpower Services, was presented with the award at the award ceremony which was held at the BMICH in Colombo under the patronage of Minister of Foreign Employment and Labour Manusha Nanayakkara.

Having been established in 2002, Siraj Manpower Services ( has earned a reputation in the field of foreign employment by winning the trust of customers for more than 20 years. It has been offering job opportunities in the Middle East countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia as housekeepers, drivers, sanitation workers, labourers and also jobs related to the apparel industry. All these workers are entitled to approved salary scales certified by the SLBFE.

“We always stand for the safety of workers who go abroad through our organisation. We work to solve the problems that arise in relation to the contracts that the workers have entered into. I must mention something special to those who go abroad for employment. That is, you should keep in mind that you go abroad only to work. Go abroad only if you can work hard. You have to remember that you are going abroad to earn some more money and achieve the advancement of your family.” said Siraj Cafoor.

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Ports Minister invites Singaporean investors to develop Colombo North Port



Sri Lankan delegation led by Minister of Ports, Navigation and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva meets with the head of PSA International Private Company which carries out the operations and development of the Singapore port.

The Minister of Ports, Navigation and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva was on an observation tour on 3rd of June to witness the operations and development of Singapore’s main port. During the tour, he had a special discussion with the head of PSA International Private Company which carries out the operations and development of the Singapore port.

Won Chee Fung, CEO of the company’s Middle East and South Asia arm said if there are investment opportunities for development and operations in the ports of Sri Lanka, they would like to apply for them.

The Minister told him that since the government has planned to start the development of the North Colombo Port, a suitable investment plan and proposal could be made for it. He also requested the heads of PSA International Private Company to provide a suitable proposal for the development of Trincomalee Port.

PSA International is one of the few largest companies operating in ports in the world, and 37,000 million containers are handled per year in Singapore’s main port alone.Officials including Assistant Vice President of PSA Company Lim Wei Chang, Chairman of JCT Oil Bank Company, Lakmal Ratnayake and representatives of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Singapore also participated in this discussion.

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