Joint Statement by New Zealand and Sri Lanka on the Occasion of the Official Visit to New Zealand by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
At the invitation of Rt. Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is paying an official visit to New Zealand from 1-3 October 2016, accompanied by Hon. Sagala Ratnayaka, Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development; Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure; Hon. Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of City Planning and Water Supply; and Hon. Dr. Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s visit reciprocates a visit by Prime Minister Key to Sri Lanka in February 2016. The two Prime Ministers released this joint statement following official talks at Government House on 1 October in Auckland.
- Having welcomed the deepening of the New Zealand–Sri Lanka relationship, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance bilateral relations in the years ahead. The two leaders noted that the reciprocal Prime Ministerial visits in 2016 reflected the importance that both countries placed on their bilateral relations. In this regard, the two leaders agreed to facilitate the holding of regular meetings at the political and senior officials’ levels, including the commencement of Foreign Ministry Consultations.
- Prime Minister Key and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe expressed their happiness on the progress made on the opening of resident High Commissions in Wellington and Colombo in the near future.
- The two Prime Ministers underscored the desire of the Governments of New Zealand and Sri Lanka to further strengthen the bilateral commercial and trade ties, including investment promotion between the two countries. The two leaders noted the potential for trading in quality products such as Sri Lankan tea and cinnamon and New Zealand dairy products. During the visit, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will deliver a speech at an event hosted by the Sri Lanka New Zealand Business Council in Auckland to encourage greater New Zealand commercial interest in Sri Lanka.
- The two Prime Ministers noted that agricultural cooperation was an important component of the bilateral commercial relationship. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe welcomed the role that New Zealand’s dairy industry has played in Sri Lanka for around half a century. In this regard, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was pleased to be meeting with Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, and experience first-hand New Zealand’s leading agricultural technology and approach towards dairy farming by visiting relevant plants and farms in Waikato. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral Dairy Cooperation Arrangement between New Zealand and Sri Lanka and announced the trial of Farm IQ technology being provided to Sri Lankan farmers by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.
- Prime Minister Key welcomed the progress that Sri Lanka had made since his visit to Colombo in February 2016 in reducing dairy tariffs and thanked Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for his leadership in this area. The Prime Ministers discussed the further steps that Sri Lanka planned to take in the period ahead toward full compliance with WTO tariff rates. The Prime Ministers discussed the consequences of Brexit for New Zealand and Sri Lanka and the broader importance of trade liberalisation and the effective functioning of the WTO rules-based trading system. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe described the potential for Commonwealth countries to have more regular discussions on trade and economic issues, as outlined in the ‘Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment’, 2013.
- The two Prime Ministers noted that both countries shared many similarities, being multi-ethnic island nations with a Commonwealth heritage, and as strong supporters of the global multilateral system which underpinned the ability of small states to promote and preserve their interests. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe expressed appreciation for New Zealand’s important contribution as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. With regard to the candidature of Helen Clark for the post of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe wished her success.
- Prime Minister Key welcomed the Government of Sri Lanka’s continued progress in national reconciliation, including through constitutional reform. Prime Minister Key reiterated New Zealand’s willingness to provide practical support. Prime Minister Key also commended the Sri Lankan Government’s active engagement in regional and international fora. During his visit, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will deliver a speech on “Sri Lanka’s Place in the World” at an event hosted by the Asia New Zealand Foundation at the Parliament in Wellington.
- The two leaders also noted the contribution made by tourists, students and approximately 12,000 Sri Lankans settled in New Zealand towards strengthening relations between the two countries.
- Prime Minister Key welcomed the ongoing cooperation between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the areas of animal health and conservation. The two Prime Ministers also noted their governments’ shared commitment to the conservation of their native flora and fauna and to animal welfare. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will visit Auckland Zoo, which houses the Sri Lankan elephant “Anjalee”, as well as the Zealandia Ecosanctuary in Wellington. Accompanied by the New Zealand Conservation Minister Maggie Barry, the Zealandia visit will provide an opportunity for Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to learn more about New Zealand’s approach to conservation.
- Prime Ministers Key and Wickremesinghe noted the shared love of sports between New Zealanders and Sri Lankans, especially in cricket and rugby. They welcomed current bilateral cooperation in rugby development, with New Zealand Rugby delivering coaching skills and standards workshops in Sri Lanka this month, and hosting Sri Lankan coaches in New Zealand for training courses in late 2016.
- Prime Minister Wickremesinghe thanked Prime Minister Key and the Government and people of New Zealand for the generous hospitality afforded during his official visit.